‘Holding Space’ for Each Other at Work

I have answered a lot of questions about Atomic Object since I started working here over 2 years ago. Since I am one of only a few Atoms with no technical background, “What do you do there?”  is the single most frequent. In truth, I still struggle for the most succinct answer to this question. My business card reads Office Coordinator, but my favorite descriptions have come from other people:

  • Millennial Life Coach
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Social Alchemist
  • Snack Diva
  • The Oil in the Machine
  • Event Guru
  • Software Design and Development Support Specialist
  • Cruise Director
  • Mom

Atomic is a detail-oriented, number crunching, attention paying, utilitarian business. It is a challenge for me to measure the fluid and human-centered “tasks” that I do. Recently I came across a new term that describes another part of what I naturally do. Besides daily operations of facilities, snacks, and taking care of people, what I ultimately try to do is hold space.

The Need to Hold Space

Atoms have intense personalities, encourage creative genius, have mad design skills, write crazy good code, and have innumerable degrees and presentations under our belts (you get the idea). We’re also curious and want to learn about everything.

We can find ourselves under a lot of internal and external pressure at work. And of course, there’s all the personal and life struggles that we all face. This is where holding space comes in.

Holding space means being supportive during personal struggles without stepping in and taking over. It means coming alongside someone and making time to listen.

Atomic tries to function as much like a family as it does like a businesses. When life happens and an Atom requires reinforcements, we hope they’ll let someone else know what’s going on.

My personal mission is to help eliminate the “I thought I was the only one with that problem!” disease, and to help point others toward progress. I believe it’s really important to hold space for others, especially those that are introverted or feeling shy.

Beyond Listening

When someone trusts you with a tough situation in their life, it’s crucial to think through your response. A personal connection and a little helpful information go a long way toward enabling someone to solve their own problems.

I ask myself five questions:

  1. Do they need immediate assistance?
  2. What are the true constraints and scope of the situation?
  3. At what level shall I hold my personal involvement?
  4. Is a connection with our Employee Assistance Center recommended?
  5. What other connections, people or information, can I help put in place?

These questions can help you figure out what information or encouragement the other person might need.

I have long believed that if people talked to each other more, and more openly, the world would be a better place. We all have stories to tell.

After all:

“We are not here to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
– Unknown

Oh, and Atomic is hiring. Come see me at the snack table. We’re holding space for you.