Using Texts to Maintain Workshop Connections

I’ve been in Co-Counseling for more than twenty years, and I enjoy attending our Regional and constituency-based workshops. About fifteen years ago I started going to an annual workshop of a particular constituency. Because of my raised-poor patterns, being from the Midwest of the United States, and the specific constituency of this workshop, the restimulation made it more and more difficult for me to attend. I felt like I didn’t belong and that I was insignificant. Eventually I rationalized not attending by telling myself that it wasn’t worth the time, travel, or money.

Thanks to my Co-Counselors’ encouragement, I attended again. But the restimulation returned; I immediately felt like I didn’t belong. I skipped another year.

I took the old feelings of insignificance to sessions many times and was able to muster the courage to attend the workshop again. At that point in my re-emergence, I could tell [perceive] by the conclusion of the workshop that I belonged, I was wanted, and it was worth my time to attend. I also noticed that in years past as the workshop had approached, the restimulation had obscured the connections and relationships I had with the participants.

Last year before attending the workshop, I found the roster and sent a text message to about a dozen people I remembered well and thought might remember me. I didn’t know if they would be attending the workshop or not; I simply told them that I would be attending and that I hoped they would be there. I wanted to create a soft landing for myself at the workshop by knowing that a few people would be aware that I was coming.

My outbound text delivered a simple message, but the responses were far from simple. Even in the brief replies I could tell that it mattered to the recipients that I had thought of them and reached out in advance of the workshop. When I arrived, several of the people said, “Thanks for the text; it meant a lot,” even before giving me a welcome hug.

This year, building on my success, I sent a pre-workshop message to nearly two-thirds of the participants from the prior year. I got many responses, and on arriving at the workshop I received a warm welcome that immediately contradicted any restimulation of not belonging. There was also an additional benefit: One of the people I had sent a message to said that I had inspired them to send a message before the workshop to a few of their friends.

During the most recent workshop, I wrote messages in my notebook that I planned to send later. After mini-sessions or participating in support or topic groups, I wrote specific notes to individuals, highlighting how they had contributed to my having a great workshop. A week after returning home, I sent them. I wanted to keep a connection after the workshop. And next year, when they get my text just before the workshop, they may still see my note about how much they meant to me the previous year.

I intend to continue this texting project even though my class and constituency restimulations have largely subsided. I think there is a benefit to me and to those I send the messages to.

I encourage you to consider ways that you could reach out to participants both before and after workshops to keep the connections and your Community going long after saying farewells.

Josh Feyen

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Last modified: 2019-05-13 15:12:23+00