A couple of weeks ago, I went to a money mindset conference with best selling author and money mindset badass Jen Sincero. Jen wrote the book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth.
While there, I met Robert, a former repo man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repo_Man) who sat at one of the round tables advising his guests seated around him on money management issues.
As I sat there, I was immediately taken in by Robert. He was smart and funny and shared his own vulnerability stories like the time he tried to collect a debt and had a gun held to his head. 😱
One of the reasons I felt so comfortable at that round table with Robert leading the discussion had to do in large part with the actual shape of the table itself.
Round or curved tables encourage equality among the people who sit there. There are no edges so the energy can move freely.
Everyone feels more connected to each other and the conversation. It’s easier to speak freely at round tables (and curved design elements) around us.
Our nervous systems and brains appreciate this, trust is easily built and as a result, relationships can grow.
A week later I found myself sitting across from Robert in his office after I had set up a meeting to pick his brain further on the concepts he had discussed at the event.
However, this time my experience was very different from the event. I felt nervous and intimidated and I instantly knew why.
Robert had his office set up so that he sat behind his rectangular desk and I sat on the other side of it. His desk was an executive desk, large and wide and created a substantial distance between us.
I felt uneasy, a bit on the insecure side, and had to turn up my positive self talk to get myself feeling comfortable again.
To give you a visual of this, here’s something similar to what that set up looked like although, to be honest, Robert’s office wasn’t nearly as pretty as this:
So what is wrong with the above set up?
Nothing is wrong with it if you understand how it makes people (including yourself and your patients, staff, etc.) feel. The key is intention.
For example, a set up like this is recommended when you want to increase people’s respect of you, so that it puts you in a more controlling position. Maybe your patients are not following your recommended treatment plans, are disrespecting you in some way, or you desire more respect among your colleagues, etc.
Remember, that when someone sits across the table from you, it can create a feeling of “we are not on the same side of the table and there is something in-between us that sets us apart.”
On the other hand, if you want your patients and clients to feel like you are partnering with them for their highest well-being and to build their trust, than Robert’s office setup is NOT the best set up for you or your business.
Instead, consider setting up two chairs with a small round side table next to you, or in-between the two chairs.
To help you visualize this, here is a quick picture of what my client (a Naturopathic Medicine doc) has done to create a feeling of partnership with her patients:
My client didn’t need to set up a desk area to gain respect from her patient and peers. Here’s what she said about the new design:
“Cheryl’s design was a game changer for my business which is now expanding to health and wellness courses online. I’ve gained more respect from my patients and peers, and my confidence has skyrocketed during my meet and greets. I feel empowered in my work!” —Dr. Michelle Winchell, ND, Earth Friendly Medicine
In the end, I know it’s not your intention to design your office in a way that makes your patients and clients feel small.
What you need to know is that your design matters. It matters to how youfeel, how your patients and clients feel, and finally to the value of your business.
As always, if you need help, send me a note here.
Your biggest cheerleader,