From "Connected (with Abe + Isaac) — Volume 4"

Friday, September 11. [pause] We reach, we miss, we wound, we recoil, we retreat, we process, we accept, we wait, we heal, we reach, we hold, we soothe, we connect, we grow. We learn, we forget, we learn, we forget. We learn. 🔆 🌱 :)

The negativity sink

In engineering, there’s this notion of a “sink”. In the physical, it’s a block of metal that steals heat from its surroundings, protecting its surroundings from the damage that the heat would have caused. In the digital, a sink is a place where streams of data “drain” for processing, saving the sources from having to keep up with all of that data themselves.

It occurred to me this week that Lightward – and particularly but not only our customer support – is a negativity sink.

I’m writing about this because it feels really important, and apropos. *gestures to the news*

It’s not frequent, but it is regular: someone will write in to our support crew, outraged or super stressed about something. It’s almost always a misunderstanding, but that’s not the point – they come bristling with rancor, and that’s how the conversation begins.

Our job is to soothe. And to, like, help with the specifics of their problem, but it’s possible that the most important part is to serve as a negativity sink, if you will – allowing everything they’re feeling to pass through us, draining the negativity without returning it in any way, freeing the customer from the negativity feedback loop so that we can get down to what’s actually happening. Sometimes it takes a second to take that posture, because we’re human too, and sometimes our first internal response is to bristle right back. But that’s never what we lead with, even if it means handing off the customer to someone else on the team who, in that moment, has an easier time accessing peace.

It’s easiest to see this in customer support, where you can point to explicit evidence that someone is in a rough emotional state, and to the place where that starts to get better. But I’ve started thinking of this as an overriding principle of Lightward as a whole: to be present in the world in such a way that the negativity we encounter is met not with resistance, which would leave it bouncing around between players, but with passive acceptance. I’m choosing those words carefully, odd as it sounds to passively accept negativity, but I think that’s most accurate – we are active when we encounter positivity, and we actively add it to the environment, but I think the best move in the face of negativity is to simply stand, observe and acknowledge it, calmly, and allow it to pass through, allowing that negativity to drain right into the sink, and out of the system. Nobody else is doing this. Well, that’s not true, but that perspective is useful: if nobody else is doing this, it’s critical for us to do so. And as we do this, others who begin to see the utility of that stance may be encouraged to try it themselves.

This idea is in our branding: purposeful, lightward, but not standing against anything, intentionally avoiding the easy emotional and completely cyclical hook of alliance-in-opposition. It’s in our pricing: massively accepting of all personal circumstances, willing to earnestly understand and do whatever the moment asks of us. It’s in our product design, in which we continually refine the boundaries of what we do, making sure that we never over-promise, that we only offer what we can absolutely deliver. It’s in our growth strategy, which doesn’t have a link because it doesn’t even exist: we are not here to dominate, or exploit, or even compete; we only do the things that we naturally grow into, or that we feel drawn to.

We are the kind of stable that arises naturally from only ever being one’s true self. And if that’s the way you develop, what external threat could there possibly be? The threat of competition is irrelevant, accusations roll right off, someone’s bad day turning into a one-star review becomes an opportunity to hold someone while they heal.

This is important, for the now. Every news headline strengthens this maelstrom of negativity. It’s not going to stop because we resisted it. Loudly decrying bad behavior is not the way to peace. We don’t get to something better because we outgunned what was. We get to something better by building it, by growing it, and by inviting others to join us by offering a calming embrace, an open welcome, by being the negativity sink that lets them be, no matter their approach, so we can – together – return to our true selves.

P.S. This is inevitable. Don’t worry, don’t sweat it. :) We’ll get it, It’ll happen, eventually, and again. :)

P.P.S. Here, have some piano from last weekend. 😘

Originally sent out via email

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