Sitting with the Right People

Posted on April 19, 2016



A couple of weeks ago, a baby shower was thrown for one of my work friends. The party was during a workday, during lunch time, and as I walked into the room, I did what almost everyone who walks into a party does. I noticed the decorations and the food and the gifts, of course. But I also looked for the people I knew, so I could sit with them.

There were two tables of people with whom I was well-acquainted. There was the table of directors and there was another table of administrative assistants. As there were seats open at both tables, I had to decide where to go.

We all know that who you sit with is important. It says a lot about how you perceive yourself and how you’d like others to perceive you. 

First, let me say that I know where I was supposed to sit. I hold a mid-level position at my company and, because I am ambitious and competitive and also a life coach, I knew that I was supposed to make room for myself at the big wig table. I knew that I was supposed to play the whole game: take up physical space and monitor my body language to show my confidence, subtly tout my newest impressive accomplishments. I know this game because I play it all day during working hours.

But I also knew that if I sat with the directors, I wouldn’t have any fun. I would have to do things like remember not to talk too loudly or not to snort if I laughed or not to curse if I got an answer wrong in the baby shower game. In short, I knew sitting at that table was going to be a major drag.

So I sat with the people with whom I can be myself around and whom I like a lot and who like me and who just happen to be administrative assistants. The ones who make witty comments and don’t think I’m unprofessional when I say Oh shit and who are pretty fun, as far as work friends go.

And, you know what? I was totally right. The table of directors spent the entire baby shower stiffly playing their director roles. My table is the one that won the baby trivia game, that laughed a lot more, that made a lunch hour at a work baby shower enjoyable.

Which brings me to my point-the importance of sitting with the right people. I’m not talking about a work party necessarily but something a little more significant-like who you sit with in life.

I’ve read article upon article about how important it is to surround yourself with the right kinds of people. The adage ‘You are the sum of the five people you hang around most’ is one of the most interesting social theories I’ve ever heard. For me, the right kinds of people are those who show up, who accept me with all of my imperfections and, most importantly, who love me. 

I’ve spent the majority of my life (and you have probably, too) deciding to sit at tables wherever there was an open seat. If people asked me to sit at their table I did, happy to be asked, without ever first considering if I really wanted to sit there in the first place. In fact, if I’m honest with myself,  I’ve spent the majority of my life waiting for invitations rather than taking the initiative to host my own table.

But these days, as I’ve grown to accept that the most important decisions you make in life have to do with the relationships you choose to have, I’ve learned to be more conscious and selective about who I sit with. Every relationship you choose to spend time and energy on takes time and energy away from other relationships. There’s a lot at stake when you decide whom you want at your table. And a lot of times, we’re so focused on the tables we haven’t been invited to, we’re so focused on winning over the people who don’t love us  that we forget where we should really be sitting-with those who do.

Figure out who energizes and uplifts you and who truly, deeply loves you for who you are. And then start choosing those people.

That will probably mean you don’t have 5000 Facebook friends and and that you may have fewer likes on Instagram. That will probably mean your social circle gets a little-or a lot-smaller.Who cares?

It’s your life. It’s your party. It’s your table. Isn’t it time to start inviting only those people who deserve a seat?