Getting to Yes, And

How to Walk Into a Room


Emily P. Freeman

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Kelly connects with best-selling author Emily P. Freeman to talk about her new book “How to Walk into a Room: The Art of Knowing When to Stay and When to Walk Away.”

I know your book is titled “How to Walk into a Room,” but the book is also about how to walk out of a room.

“I do think about if life were like a house, then every room holds a story. And there are some rooms that we walk into, and we know immediately: this is my room, and these are my people. And then we've got other rooms where we might crack the door, stick our head, and we're like: absolutely not, goodbye. But then there are those rooms where we maybe have belonged for a really long time; Maybe they've shaped us; Maybe they're rooms we fought to get into really hard; Maybe there were goals for us to walk into those rooms. But then something happens, a shift, a cultural change, a question. And we begin to wonder, is this still a room for me now? So, what do we do when a room that we're in perhaps isn't a room for us anymore?”

And how we are raised and where we come from all effects our being in that room or not.

"The most difficult questions that people come to me with when we're in conversation is when they're questioning a room that they're in that they've loved; that they've been part of; and they're starting to question their belonging there. It's the rooms that are tied to our identity. And so those questions that we have are formed by the ways we've been formed before we even entered that room. And so, sometimes that can keep us from questioning whether or not we might want to enter a hallway or enter a different room because what does this say about me as a person, and what will I have left if I walk out?” ”

Talk to us about the sacred space of the pause or, as you call it, the hallway.

“So, I find that pause, that sacred pause, what could be a sacred pause - It may last for a moment. Or you might live a lot of your life in the sacred pause, what I would call the hallway, the space between the space, this liminal space where maybe a lot is happening, where it looks like nothing is happening. And what do we do in those spaces when we don't know what to do? I think that's something that we can be afraid of. But, you know, I find a lot of the juiciness and the discomfort of it - that's where good things happen. And so that's the hallway space.”

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