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How to Play Together and Stay Together (PTST): 5 Strategies for Reunions
Happy Login Wednesday! It’s been a few weeks since I connected with you and I have to say I miss talking to you. However, the good thing about being connected is that we always have another chance to re-connect with each other. Yesterday I contacted a friend of mine that I haven’t spoken to in many months. Still, because we were friends our conversation fell into place as if we had just talked to each other yesterday!
How many of you have friends, family members, and maybe even old classmates or colleagues that you’ve lost touch with? I’m sure you have at least one person you’d like to reconnect with. Well for the next 5 weeks I’m going to share 5 simple strategies on how to build, maintain and strengthen relationships in any group! Basically, I will teach you “How to play together and stay together” (PTST)!
Strategy #1: Get together!
“80% percent of life’s satisfaction comes from meaningful relationships” B. Tracy
The first step to learning how to PTST with any group is to first JOIN TOGETHER! Now this may seem rather obvious, but it is also the most difficult to accomplish out of the 5 strategies. Why? Because unfortunately, leisure is no longer a valuable thing. Society, in general, does not see the need or meaning of leisure in life.
Reunions are simply recreational events simply to allow everyone to “reunion” or “reunion” after being apart for a period of time. Getting together, or meeting, must be a priority and not an afterthought!
So you must PLAN a recurring event (monthly, annually, and bi-annually) so you can “check in” WITH THEM. If it’s been a year, two years or even 10 years since you last saw each other it’s time to catch up! Many things happen to you, your family and your friends. This is the perfect time to update everyone on these celebrations! Meetings can help people balance their lives and help us achieve a better quality of life. So step up and take the role of GROUP CONNECTOR and bring everyone together regularly, so you can interact socially WITH THEM, improve communication WITH THEM and have fun with THEM!
Strategy #2: PLAY!
“It’s better to play than to do nothing.” ~Confucius
The second strategy for PTST is to PLAY! Now, I’m sure most of you are thinking that this is a juvenile strategy. However, PLAY is not crazy, but a very serious concept. PLAY is fundamental to human existence! Think about the best memories of your childhood – I bet you were playing!
A very positive feature of play is that it has the ability to create order. PLAY has its own rules. With this gravity and order is inherent and the established rules. As a result, the most important feature of PLAY is that it has the power to separate itself from ordinary life. So, during PLAY you can forget about everyday annoyances: bills, deadlines, and schedules. You can enjoy your group 100% without the distractions of life.
Because PLAY has its own rules it can break barriers. It doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 80 years old–playfulness can bring you closer together and create understanding. Recreation, or PLAY, improves the overall well-being of all participants regardless of activity. Through organized activities personal health goals, relationship building, and personal growth and learning are created and maintained.
How many meetings or other gatherings have you attended that were just, well, boring? Nothing to do but eat and maybe talk? Have you ventured outside of your familiar group and talked to any new people? Did you feel like you could save money and travel time because you could do the same thing by staying at home? Bottom line: PLAY makes meetings more interesting!
Strategy #3: Get involved!
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato
We learned that to play together and stay together (PTST) we must #1-GET TOGETHER and then add #2-PLAY. These two strategies provide a great opportunity for the next strategy to take place. Strategy #3 is to participate! Participating is an active action. It requires some work on your part as an individual member of your group. You have to deliberately get into the game! So why is it that some people can easily jump right in and others find it difficult to get off the park bench? It is not that one person is more social than the other, or that one is less willing than the other. The reason why some members participate and others don’t is all about one thing – motivation!
There is a psychological basis for participation in leisure activities – otherwise known as motivation. The reason we get up and participate (or not participate) is because we are either intrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated by leisure and recreation. If you are intrinsically motivated then there is something inside you that drives you to participate. For example achievements driven by a sense of mastery, competence or by self-determination are intrinsically driven. Extrinsic motivation, however, is when outside factors such as rewards or contingencies are the primary reason for leisure participation. So what drives you to participate?
Strategy #4: FLOW!
“The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Everyone you participate, and you are using your skills to the utmost.” ~Csikszentmihalyi
Strategy #4 is FLOW! There must be a marriage between the strategies. Just like in a marriage, there must be a dedicated relationship between #2-PLAY and #3-ATTEND! Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee-mouthful isn’t it?), pens the idea of FLOW in his “Flow Theory”. FLOW is defined as “being fully involved in an activity for its own sake”. It is a state of consciousness where you become totally absorbed in what you are doing. All other thoughts or emotions are excluded. During FLOW, time can either stand still or time can move incredibly fast. Your group should have such a good time that they won’t want the meeting to end!
To promote FLOW there must also be a balance of skills and challenges in each activity. If the challenges are too high, people may feel some form of anxiety and if the challenges are too low, some people may experience boredom. Each activity must involve a level of creativity, challenge and happiness for all members. So avoid scheduling a chess tournament if only one family member knows the rules. Make sure your games or activities during PLAY reflect a balance that everyone will want to participate in!
So why is strategy #4 important in a meeting? Well, FLOW has the power to free one from fear or failure and replace it with a sense of empowerment and now that we have involved PLAY in our meetings the participants will be able to find feelings of personal satisfaction while participating. We PLAY to have fun…but we also PLAY to win!
So, we talked about the importance of strategies #1-Together, #2-Play, #3-Involve and #4-Flow. Keep them in mind as you plan for each generation (if there is more than one) to be represented at your meeting. Provide the right activities to match the skill level of the participants, and challenge them enough that they will try their best to win! Everyone should leave feeling like a winner! Those who experience FLOW will seek it again. You want to make sure they know they can experience it at your annual meeting again, and again, and again!
“Win together, lose together, play together, stay together.” ~Debra Mancuso
The strategies provided have been developed to help you and THEM build, strengthen and maintain your relationship through meetings. Strategies 1-4 allow everyone to come together, reconnect, have fun, and live in the moment while building memories with the people who matter most.
The final strategy in learning how to PTST is #5- STAY TOGETHER! Unfortunately, this step is often lost at the end of meetings. After the last hot dog was eaten and the last game was played everyone dispersed and returned to their busy lives. Life is filled with responsibilities that leave little or no room to maintain the bonds that PSTS helped you and THEM build.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight doesn’t have to be out of mind and you don’t have to wait until the next meeting to connect with those you care about. There are many ways to STAY TOGETHER, or connect, without doing it physically. Thanks to the constant improvements in technology. It’s easier than ever to stay connected to our demanding lives. Here are 6 tips to help you and THEY stay connected until the next meeting:
1. Group Website: Hosting a family website is a great way to share information. Members can post photos and announcements throughout the year. How great would it be to be able to share in the precious moments of life with each other? Share small victories, graduations, new arrivals and weddings with THEM throughout the year.
2. Group Newsletters: Whether printed or electronic, a newsletter is another convenient way to stay connected. Groups can even outsource this work. Have THEM send the information to get good news and have a professional compile the information and send it as a newsletter.
3. Group Email: Make sure you get email addresses before you leave the meeting. Don’t be afraid to send them a note to let them know you’re thinking of them. Email is another great way to stay in touch with little effort.
4. Social Media: Create a group page on Facebook-make it exclusive to THEM. Twitter is also a good option. Start following people you know, love and admire.
5. Mini Reunions: plan a short trip or get together with people who live nearby that you may not see often. You may not be able to get hundreds of people together but you can unite a smaller group for fun and leisure.
And, for the non-techie:
6. Pick up the phone: In the age of online media, email and texting we sometimes forget about the non-tech savvy. Give one of THEM a call.
Recreation and recreation are essential to building strong communities. Entertainment is intended to provide the community and its members. So after all the hard work to GET TOGETHER, PLAY, INVOLVE, and when you are in the FLOW you must not forget that you have done all these things for the greatest result – which is STAYING TOGETHER. So, promise yourself that you will stay connected with THEM throughout the year. Most importantly, don’t forget to save the date for next year’s meeting: There is nothing better than looking forward to seeing THEM again.
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