I was just this morning reading from THE ART OF CONVENING by Craig & Patricia Neal. It talks of the importance of the invitation to shape our gatherings. The book quotes Peter Block (who wrote much of what interested me in my graduate program on Transformative Leadership) and his idea that how we meet together is at least as important as why we do so.
I've been able to activate these ideas in my work often, and on occasion in meetings I join rather than host, and sometimes even in personal gatherings of family and friends. I love it when people initially roll their eyes at the touchy-feely vibe, then comment afterwards at how wonderful the event was. I say it makes a difference -- reminding people why we're here together.
At the Tai Sophia Institute we learned about poking people as reminders of who they really are and how they're showing up in the world. The word POKE is a boxing term dating back to 1796; it means a quick, sharp, but non-damaging jab, one that likely generates action and movement in the recipient and creates an opening for further action. Poke reminds me of provoke, like agent provocateur. The word originates in Latin where provocator means challenger, and provocare means "to call out”. Poke also means a small sack or pouch (from French pogue and German pocca circa 1200 A.D.). It's the origin of the modern pocket, a place where you keep useful and valuable things handy.
When we poke others we’re challenging them, calling them out, nudging them to move closer to their calling -- to their reason for being, and to open up their pouches and reveal those treasures. So rather than take affront at receiving a poke, or to poke someone with malice, consider perhaps that a poke might really be an invitation to share your gold. Rather than sharpening your stick, hone your language in a way that pokes people gently and reminds them of the hidden treasures they carry.