On Saturday, I went to see a friend at her workplace and she introduced me to a new team member. Without missing a beat, I turned to Aarti (that was her name) and said: Wel-come! And Aarti took this deep breath and said: Thank you!

A month ago, I would not have said that word. And were someone else to say it, I would not have expected Aarti to be so grateful! What changed? Well, I met Alice…Alice Waweru to be precise. Still not making much sense? Let me back up a bit.

In late May, I was honoured to be invited to co-facilitate at a Women’s Leadership event in Ghana. The incredible experience of that event deserves another post of its own – suffice to say it was (what do young people say these days) epic! And one of the highlights was meeting Alice – one of my fellow facilitators. Now, Alice is a beautiful woman and has many talents – what touched my heart was that she would say: Wel-come to each person who walked into the same room or space as her. And the word welcome was said in 2 explicit syllables with a pause so that it really got heard by the person.

When she noticed that I was very intrigued by this practice, she found me in a quiet minute and said:

You know when someone walks into a space these days, every body is preoccupied, either on their devices or with their own thoughts. I make it a point to say Wel-come slowly so that they can arrive and feel included.

WOW!!! What a beautiful reach-out and how simple! Over the next days, I noticed that even when it became a bit of a laugh, each person who received her word of welcome truly felt acknowledged and seen. And for us facilitators, it is safe to say we even began to miss it when Alice was not around.

Now, fast forward to Saturday and Aarti…do you see it now? I learned from Alice and I welcomed her almost automatically. And…I truly feel Aarti finally arrived into her new space and new assignment.

So Alice…Thank you!

…then Alice said Wel-come!

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