*this is the written version of the story I told at #HRsOpenMicNight in Manchester on Wednesday 12th December. We were raising money for Retrak – please donate here
I went to a Clairvoyant on Monday night.
I blame my mate Liz who, after 3 glasses of fizz, was determined that Amelia-the-Psychic was a better investment than the Crimes of Grindewald….
Palmistry, tarot… the future would be ours.
Bag of bollocks.
But we go.
We stand outside the beautiful gypsy caravan… in the dark, cold Edinburgh night, in the midst of the Christmas Markets, in a queue full of expection.
The young girl in front of us aches with a question: Should I move to California?
I can’t help myself… I’m a coach and a pragmatist…. I ask her: What do you think?
She says she doesn’t know
I change tack – what’s your sense? You gut?
Yes, she says. It feels right.
So Trust that, I say, Be your own psychic – you know this stuff, you can tune into your own energy and sense.
All this [waving my hand at the caravan] is…. it’s an external manifestation of your internal conflict.
She looked at me oddly at that point…..and things moved on.
So I go up the stairs to see Amelia – she’s northern. Quietly spoken. Mid- late 60’s. Beautiful eyes. Warm. Welcoming.
and I relax, but I’m still running cyncism.
It’s so rare that I’m on the end of the questions – I’m often the one asking or telling the story back. So it is strange for me. I feel unshielded…..but she is gentle… I’m grateful for that.
As she turns the Tarot cards, she asserts and she asks, she puzzles her way through what is on the table – how does this-fit-with-this-and-then-this? And I find myself looking at her going: your job and mine hon… not so fecking different….
I don’t believe she is psychic, exactly – but this woman is empathic, warm , wise – she can see stuff, the energy I run, what I’m willing to reveal, where I hesitate – where I meet her eyes… where I look away.. the tone of my laugh… the set of my jaw… she is exquisitely tuned into me (and presumably my £20)
And I laugh – because I’m the first to scoff at bloody psychics and charlatans…. But here, with her….I recognise some of my own practice – some of the stuff I access to access others…the minute data… the receipt of a feeling…. The sense of a thing… the puzzling out of the story….
And how this way of working can be dismissed.
When we say where is the evidence? Where is the data?
If the answer is: you can feel it or hear it, you can sense it…..that’s not often well received.
A board meeting where the Feeling Report is the primary focus? not so much……
It makes me think about my work…
What work DO I do?
I work up close and personal with clients.
I give views. I support. I challenge. I annoy.
I have high standards about stuff I think matters – relationships, ethics, creativity, freedom, treating folk right, not being a dick – and stupidly low standards about stuff that seems to matter to other folk – status, power, financial gain, bottom line, certainty.
I’m about the culture and the heart of the business – our social, relational and emotional state. Sometimes I feel like the only one in the room talking about that shit.
Sometimes I really am.
Outlier, outsider, difficult, different…..
And I love.
I love what I bring and who I work with.
I love complexity and puzzles and strangeness.
I love stopping stupid things & starting less stupid ones.
I love saying “I don’t know… but we can figure it out”
This work… I see it as social, relational, emotional – and it’s still less valued than I’d like in organisations. This stuff – emotional labour – is so frequently seen as an add on – less powerful.
And I’m going to do the feminine thing. This work is inherently seen as feminine… not female, because I know blokes who work in this sphere with grace and skill. This is NOT about the gender we claim… it’s about the gender we give to What Matters.
If all that matters is strong, rational, assertion, advocacy, agency – we end up in a world where everyone is strong and rational and asserting – no one connects.
If all that matters is connection, emotion, communing, asking – we end up in a world that is too soft and indecisive… we need both.
We say we need both – but we really need both.
Emotional labour is not pink and bloody fluffy.
It take guts and tenacity to be with someone’s emotions.
High expressed emotion can be almost excruciating to be with, for some….it’s not faint-hearted in any way.
Which brings me back to Amelia.
Amelia sitting in a gypsy caravan in Edinburgh, connecting with people… listening to them…
Emotional Labour requires calm and wisdom and maybe even beautiful eyes….
Being kind and saying: Go to California to my wee friend……
Perhaps…. Perhaps I’m a little bit Clairvoyant….