Seekers & courtesy

In my last post, I talked about there are some things I pay attention to when meeting Seekers. The first one I want to talk about is courtesy.

What is courtesy?

People sometimes think it means formal manners – but I mean something more general, the idea of making the other person feel comfortable and at home in the conversation. Different people and communities also have different standards of behavior or things they care about. For example: my workplace is fairly casual in terms of dress, but it’s expected that people eat lunch together in the lunch room and do some other cordial interactions that aren’t as common in other workplaces.

When someone’s looking to enter a new community (as Seekers are), and especially when it’s one that is fairly small and close-knit, one of the things I’m interested in is whether they appear to be able to pick up the community’s culture and work within it. This doesn’t mean you need to all think the same way, or react the same way! It just means that you can navigate the differences without a lot of rough edges and drama. For example, if it’s courteous in a particular community to bring food to share to events, or to take off your shoes at the door, can you do those things without making a big deal about how, in your house, you don’t do it that way? Asking questions is fine, throwing a temper tantrum is not so much.

When I talk about courtesy, here, I also mean something very basic: a simple respect for the other person and their time and energy. It’s about paying attention to any preferences that are expressed. In a number of in-person Pagan settings, you’re either taking someone’s time away from other things they might be doing (i.e. asking a favor), or you’re sometimes even in their home. How you approach that definitely gets noticed.

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Seekers at first glance

I’ve been thinking a lot about seekers recently. (People who are interested in a particular group or tradition.)

I’ve done a lot of teaching of my tradition’s introductory classes, and I answered the group email for over 4 years, which gives you quite a bit of experience (as well as hanging out in various discussion fora online.) I want to do a series of posts on things I tend to pay attention to in Seekers: I’m going to talk briefly about them here, and then expand on each in a longer post (with some examples and ideas about them.)

Initial impressions:

There are four things I’ve found that tend to catch my eye and make me excited about getting to know a prospective seeker better:

  • Courtesy.
  • Perspective.
  • Responsibility and follow-through.
  • Attention to details.

These four all can be shown – in smaller and larger ways – through initial email contacts, meetings, etc. They don’t require any previous knowledge of Paganism or any subset of it, and they don’t require any other particular kind of education, background, or experience. (Courtesy is perhaps the exception, but as you’ll see when I get to the explanation, it’s not what you might think.)

Later experiences:

Once I get to know them a little bit, there are a few more things that make me interested in long-term work with someone.

  • Open to learning (on their own and in a group setting)
  • Self-aware and mature in their seeking.
  • Willing to participate.
  • Low drama.

Want some examples?

Check out the following posts about my basic four preferences.