Priya Parker, author of ‘The Art of Gathering,’ urges hosts to value people over things.
Priya Parker has been bringing people together for most of her life.
As the only child of an Indian mother and white American father who divorced and both remarried, Parker grew up shuttling every two weeks between “two radically different worlds,” she told Moneyish: her mom’s “Hindu, Buddhist, New Age, progressive” household and her dad’s conservative, evangelical Christian family.
“It’s not a surprise that I’m in the field of conflict resolution,” said Parker, a facilitator and conflict-resolution mediator who founded the boutique advisory firm Thrive Labs. “I come from a family with some estrangement in it.”
Parker poured that facilitating expertise into her debut book, “The Art of Gathering.” (A gathering, as she defines it, is “any time three or more people get together for a purpose.”) The Riverhead Books title, which went on sale Tuesday, aims to “blow up” the age-old notion that there’s a right or wrong way to host a meeting, family function or party. Rather, its author argues, we’ve been told to focus on the wrong things — nailing the perfect recipe or getting the perfect apartment, for example — instead of engineering thoughtful, inspiring gatherings that place the focus on people.