Opening Up Is a Full-Body Experience

Opening Up Is a Full-Body Experience

How I’m adapting to business changes.

As I move through 2021, I’m noticing how businesses are adapting to less restrictive guidelines. Some firms are returning to the office space, others are choosing to work from home, and there are some that are continuing with a hybrid model. I’m seeing more clients open to face-to-face meetings. Flights are full, and restaurants and entertainment venues are starting to bustle again.

I have a three-bucket philosophy of life: 1. There are things you cannot change (people, places, and things). 2. Some things need an organizational shift (new strategies, processes, or resources). 3. I have full control of my thoughts, words, and behaviors.

First, I am open with my ears.  I listen well so I hear words correctly to avoid misunderstanding. I remove background noise and distractions. If I repeat “what?” a lot, do I need a hearing test? When the other person mumbles or is too quiet, I use my next body part to correct and clarify.

I use my mouth to expose diverse ideas. I ask, “what do you mean?” or “can you please clarify that statement?” if I’m confused. When someone makes a statement and I need more details, I say, “tell me more” or “go on” or through other effective discussion prompts. Asking or stating, “what do you mean?” “I don’t understand,” or “say that again,” improve conversation clarity. I use active listening techniques and repeat what the other person said word for word. If it is correct, they will agree and move on. If they don’t agree, they will correct themselves. I work hard to have open conversations.

My head helps me clear out stale mindsets. I’m curious and ponder other opinions and perspectives. I allow myself time to think and digest information before reaching a conclusion. I count to five to allow my thinking brain to catch up with my reactive brain if I’m stressed. I expose myself to diverse ideas and opinions while being receptive to new ideas, and I make sure to study, consider, listen, and ask questions.

I’m open with eyes. I look for growth opportunities and notice differences for what they are—without judgment. Instead of “compare to,” I learn from. When people-watching, I challenge myself to find something beautiful and clever, instead of ugly or trashy. When disagreeing with someone, I find common ground so we can start from a neutral position. I remind myself that I value principles over personalities.

I use my hands to welcome people into conversations and reinforce my words. I send friendly texts and emails to check in on people, and use social media to share positivity and gratitude. I volunteer and pitch in to help others in need, where a helping hand can make a difference.

I check my gut when I feel cornered or threatened. I seek out friends and specialists to help me stay receptive to new ideas and resources. I recognize what I can change and change what I can—which is always me and my reaction to a situation.

Finally, I use my feet to be open. I go where needed and take whatever steps required to be receptive to others. I focus on what it’s like on the other side of me. When faced with a challenge or difficulty, I ask myself “what is your next step?” instead of reacting.

In June 2021, I am open to a changing business landscape and notice how others respond to challenges. I make myself available to new ideas, technology, and progress.

Being open is a full-body experience for me. How are you opening up?


Article written by Barbara Shuck, FSMPS, CPSM, who sits on the SMPS Foundation board as secretary. Barbara can be reached at

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