13 Ways to Practice Hospitality Every Day

A. Burton / freeimages.com
A. Burton / freeimages.com

My facebook feed has blown up in recent weeks. Between SCOTUS decisions and vaccine soap boxes the everyday back and forth between intelligent people I typically see has take on an ugly life of its own.


I have seen more statements of “unfriending” than ever before and I have heard many real-life confessions of online hurt feelings.


I don’t have a solution for this – let’s face it, I rarely have answers! While I might sometimes have a humorous observation, I mostly see my writing as a way to recognize and process the world around me.


Right now, in the wake of all I see on facebook and hurt feelings in real life, my mind is deeply engaged with the concept of hospitality.


The Google gives the definition of hospitality:

  1. 1.
    the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
    synonyms: friendliness, hospitableness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality, geniality, cordiality,courtesy, amenability, generosity, entertainment, catering, food

    “we found nothing but hospitality among the local inhabitants”


While this outlines a working definition of hospitality, my brain is coming to see hospitality as a broader term: the ability to show value to others by how I welcome them into participation in my own life. The welcoming may take a physical nature, but more importantly to daily interaction, I think it must take a philosophical bent.


Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out says it like this:

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”


How do we extend hospitality to others in our daily interactions in order to create a safe space? I recently attended a talk presented by Monica Irvine of the Etiquette Factory. I’m changing a few words, but the bulk of these practical definitions come from that session.


13 Ways to Put Hospitality Into Action


Hospitality is Graceful. Grace assumes the best and Doubts the worst. Stop and park on that for a minute. What if you were surrounded by people who actually live this philosophy. Wouldn’t it be liberating?!

Hospitality Does What’s Right. Even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable, a hospitable person will still do what they are called to do.

Hospitality is Kind. Kindness is a most desirable quality! It bears ones another’s burdens, listens attentively, and encourages others to live according to their ethics.

Hospitality Does Not Gossip. Hospitality always speaks the best of a person. If the words you say will cause others to think less of another…. do not speak it. Even if it’s true.

Hospitality Does Not Complain. There is a difference between airing a genuine and truthful grievance and casually complaining about everything from the weather to the business of your day. Casual complaining displays a lack of gratitude and becomes a burden on the people around us.

Hospitality Does Not Conform. It is not necessary to compromise your own standards in order to be hospitable. It is okay to “agree to disagree,” but that disagreement should still come from a place of valuing the other person and does not always require a confrontation.

Hospitality Keeps Commitments. Consistent people are trustworthy people. Choose the best “yes” out of all of the many options available to you and when you say you will do something, do it.

Hospitality Admits Flaws. The moment you see a mistake, own up to it. “I’m sorry, but…” is not a real apology that takes ownership, so when you apologize for something, own it completely and simply.

Hospitality is Confident. A confident person is one who can quickly, easily offer genuine compliments to other people. Before seeing a person think ahead to the meeting and prepare a kind and thoughtful compliment you can offer to them.

Hospitality is Trustworthy. A hospitable person works to make others fee valued. As such, they do not reveal confidences. If you are tempted to reveal a “secret,” measure the motivation for why you are sharing the information against the damage created to your own integrity.

Hospitality is Honest. Some studies state the average person lies at least four times a day. Most of us don’t see ourselves as habitual liars, but what about hyperbole? What about when we might omit details of a story to make ourselves look a little better to the listener? Honest takes hard work!

Hospitality Avoids Being the Center of Attention. Hospitable people avoid extreme behavior that will cause them to be the focus of a group. Clothing choices, hair, actions, etc. all of these things can be used to grab attention and force it to ourselves, whereas a hospitable person is always looking to the comfort of others. Extra attention is not necessary to receive value.

Hospitality Strives for Balance in Conversation. People who are hospitable ask questions of others. In person they lean forward with attention, make eye contact, mirror facial expressions. Strive to not speak without passing the conversational ball for more than two minutes at a time. Hospitable people also work to remember key elements from previous conversations so they can follow up on those points.


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Hospitality vs. Chocolate

Mmmm... chocolate....

It’s happened again. I’ve had to confront my eccentricity.


I’m wondering if my peculiar psyche should have its own name, as it makes itself known more and more often these days. Let me elaborate.


Tomorrow my good girlfriends are coming into town for the weekend.  I’m in charge of procuring the food, as I am the local and they are coming from far-off lands where people talk about sailing their boots and call water fountains “bubblers.”


The grocery list is pretty simple: sandwich makings, cereal, milk, crackers, and chocolate. This is all normal stuff for me to get at the store, yet this shopping trip I had a new companion: neurosis.


I need someone to tell me they suffer from the same issue, please.


As I was shopping I realized these women were trusting me with their food needs and I wanted them to be confident in my purchases. I’m an innately picky eater, so when I go places, all food is suspicious.


(I almost starved to death in Tunisia because of this problem, but the fish still sporting its eyeballs and the couple eating their dinner – literally – from a goat’s skull didn’t help matters much. Thank you, Lord, for Oat ‘n Honey granola bars that I could carry in my backpack from the good ‘ol U.S. of A.!)


All of this emotion hit me in the condiment aisle and I decided I needed to put my visitors’ comfort level at high priority. Since they’re coming from a different region of the country our brands of foodstuffs might be different, this causing involuntary suspicion in them.


Suspicion on vacation is a sad thing to endure.


So began the adventure of analyzing every item in the cart. Instead of the Frosted Mini Spooners I would typically get for our family I splurged for the big box of Frosted Mini Wheats. Peanut butter and jelly? Had to be Jif and Welch’s. Milk – oh, that was a hard one, because what is a “national” brand of milk?! I went with Shamrock… don’t know if that was a good choice or not!


The final splurge item… chocolate. I got a mixed bag of snack-sized Snickers, Twix, and M&Ms.


Now, here’s the problem. That bag of candy is the only chocolate we have in the house. What I haven’t been missing at all in previous days is suddenly a craving as strong as anything I can imagine!


I want that chocolate. I want it very badly.


BUT… if I open the bag my dear friends will know I’ve been in the chocolate stash and I feel like it will negate all the careful planning of national brands of other foods! An opened bag of chocolate is a suspicious item – who knows if it was actually left over from Christmas?!


Can anyone back me up on this feeling? My husband thinks I should just tell them I’m pregnant and the baby wanted chocolate. (That’s so logical. And true. I should not take his advice.)


The question of the evening, then, is should I bust into the bag of chocolate or not? The secondary question is: do you splurge on the name brands when company comes?


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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

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