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Fostering connection at work

Because when we feel better we do better

I recently was part of a church service which is something that is not an everyday thing for me. The sign of peace really struck a chord with me and I really enjoyed those moments of connecting, looking someone in the eye and wishing them the best. I see you, I wish the best for you.

For whatever reasons many church communities have dwindling numbers, but a place we do have people show up to regularly is work.

We know through the research from Brené Brown that we are “hard wired for connection.” It seems that workplaces are the obvious place to benefit from some sort of practice like this. A practice that says I see you and maybe even extend to I wish you the best.

Now cue the eye rolling whenever I mention practices like these in workplaces but prior to dismissing it just think about how good it feels when someone acknowledges you in a genuine way; when you feel that you have connected with someone rather than just running past people with “how are you?” with the typical response being “busy.” You feel better and when we feel better we do better. Isn’t that what we want for people in our team; those people who are part of your organisation?

So, this is not all warm and fuzzy it is actually good workplace practice to build in some routines around acknowledgement and recognition.

Again, cue the eye rolling. I would like to state here I am no “Pollyanna” on this subject; as a workplace mediator I see workplace conflict and where it can get to. I understand that for very good reasons you might not wish the best for your colleagues. However, I also feel some of the contributing factors to workplace conflict are about competition, you against me, and the premise that if you are succeeding, I must be missing out. Is this really the case? Doesn’t it make sense in a lot of situations that if you are working well in the organisation that is good for the organisation and as part of the group I may also benefit? 

I think a starting place is a platform where we all can recognise that we are more alike than not. Acknowledging the sentiments of the” just like me” meditation practice.

These people have feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.

These people have in their lives, experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, just like me.

These people have at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me.

These people have felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.

These people have worries and are frightened sometimes, just like me.

These people have longed for friendship, just like me.

Or if science is more your thing…

A recent TED talk by physicist and entrepreneur Riccardo Sabatini demonstrated that a printed version of your entire genetic code would occupy some 262,000 pages, or 175 large books. Of those pages, just about 500 would be unique to us. We are more alike than not!

What I am saying is there is not a cookie cutter approach to connection, to helping people be seen.  You do need to really look at your team and what would be the right fit for them.  It may be celebrating the wins in a way that is unique to your team.  Maybe finding a way to make sure everyone has a voice not just the loudest voice.  Giving people the opportunity to really meet their team mates by understanding their values.  You do not need to everything in a day.  But you do need to make  a start.  What would be the one thing for your team that would encourage people to be seen rather than run past each other through the work day.  What one thing could you do as a Manager or suggest to your Manager?

It makes sense to me that workplaces are the obvious common denominator as so many of us go to work. So, if our goal is for our businesses to flourish than our people have to flourish. A good platform for people to take off is some recognition that I see you and maybe we can extend to I wish you the best. Not “Pollyanna”, not warm and fuzzy, just good business sense. Because people who are connected and feel they have been seen, feel better and when we feel better we do better.

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