Our volunteer Quiet Connectors have a very important role to play at our Meet Ups. Every interaction they have grows our quieteers’ sense of connection and belonging. Their friendliness, attentiveness, support and reassurance helps to create a positive experience for that person, while nurturing a connected community where we can all flourish.
A Quiet Connector will always hold the intention of helping people to feel connected and at ease in their own gentle way and there are lots of behaviours that can support this intention.
Tasks of a volunteer Quiet Connector
We can break the tasks down into three key groups: the welcome, refreshments and connecting. It’s not important for a Quiet Connector to be strong in every area, but for the team to complement each other’s abilities well.
This is about offering reassurance and orienting quieteers to the space when they arrive. It involves giving our quieteers permission to sit back and join in, depending on what feels right for them, and offers them an easy next step.
A warm cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate can be a soothing resource for anyone feeling a little anxious, so we make sure that people are offered a drink as they arrive and again during the session.
This involves noticing what’s happening in the room, picking up on how someone might be feeling and acting with compassion to help someone feel seen and included. All quieteers naturally move into the connecting role during the Meet Up to the degree that they’re comfortable and their confidence in this grows over time. Connecting is explored in detail below.
What I got up to as a connector…
By the time I arrive, another Quiet Connector has set up the room and is making tea. I welcome a couple of quieteers and then notice two men sitting close (a regular and a new quieteer) but neither are talking to anyone, so I sit and speak with one of them and bring the other into the conversation.
A new person comes through the door, so I leave the men talking and head over to welcome the new person. I chat with him at a table for a while, then offer my seat to another new quieteer who’s just joined.
I realise that we’re sort of sat in a big circle now and people might feel a bit exposed, so I bring another chair over to sit at the opposite side of the table, breaking the circle and creating a ‘huddle’. I chat with the two new guys for a while.
I take a moment to look around the room behind me and see that the regular I sat with first is doing a wordsearch by himself and looking a little disconnected, which of course is fine if they want to quietly sit back and observe, but I also want to make sure that he feels included and has a choice. So, I head over and invite him to join the table of guys with me. He seems nervous and delighted to be asked. He quickly stands up and picks up his wordsearch, laughing as he says “ooh I don’t know what I’m letting myself in for!” I tell him it’s okay if he wants to continue his wordsearch at the table with us and I move my chair along for him and get myself another, then introduce him to the two young men I’ve been speaking with. We speak a little as a group and in pairs and then as a group again.
After a while, conversation dries up a little and we pick up the conversation starters. I start making a pom-pom using some of our kit, prompting some sharing of childhood memories and laughs.
We’re having a fun conversation about spirit animals when another new quieteer joins our table. I wait for a pause in conversation and introduce everyone. We find out his would-be spirit animal and there’s some more get-to-know each other chat, and then another short lull in conversation where the new person mentions not being good at keeping conversation going. I share that what I love about this space is that quiet moments are welcomed. We need a bit of time to pause and reflect at times and there’s no pressure to fill silences. The chatter continues.
Two women who are regulars at the Meet Up leave early -they’re off to see a show together. And now there’s someone sat by himself, so I sit on the sofa with him and learn a bit more about him, and share a bit about my life too. We’re joined by another guy and start a conversation with the two young women sitting opposite.
Coming to the end of the Meet Up, I start collecting up cups and doing the dishes. As I’m washing up (and saying goodbye to people leaving), the man I invited to join us at the table comes over and says thank you, telling me that he’s really enjoyed himself and is looking forward to next week.
I left the Meet Up feeling energised and knowing that I’d made a difference helping quieteers to feel seen, make new friends and gain a greater sense of belonging.