Human connection makes work life more enjoyable and less chaotic. Employees with meaningful relationships find greater satisfaction and productivity in the workplace. It’s nice to have connections that support professional growth and development whether it comes from a manager, team leader, or coworker. When employers invest in workplace connections, they support their employees in personal and professional advancement.
As I’ve worked with my professional clients over the years, I’m convinced that human connection helps lower stress, regulate emotions, leads to improved self-concept and empathy, and improves the immune system. When we ignore our need for human connection, we ignore our physical and mental wellbeing. So, how might employers encourage employees to engage in human connection that enhances the work environment? Encourage your team to take one small step at a time. First, consider how much you would do for a good friend. Connections are not only important, but necessary for continued growth. Your relationships are valuable on multiple levels; personal, professional, and emotional. Human connection is a sense of closeness and belonging experienced during a supportive relationship.
Remember, connectivity is a basic, fundamental human need.
Encourage your team to utilize these simple strategies:
Be willing to start small.
It’s unusual for upper-level executives to have time join the team for lunch or coffee. It’s also unlikely for a stranger to join the team for a company dinner. Each employee owns the responsibility to take the first step. So, encourage them to do so.
● Start by taking one small step. If that goes well, you’ll have the chance to escalate the relationship down the road one step at a time.
● Ask a colleague to join you for coffee.
● Ask a team member if they’d like to play golf.
● Start a conversation with a new coworker.
Take advantage of workplace opportunities.
Office birthday parties, the coffee maker, water cooler, someone new moves into your neighborhood, the time before a meeting starts: These are all great opportunities to say hello and start a conversation.
● Most people are waiting for someone to talk to them. You can be that person. Everyone wants to feel heard.
Many workplaces have softball teams, volunteer organizations, or a Toastmasters Club. Get involved. Your local community has plenty of social opportunities, too.
● Be assertive and sign yourself up for something that interests you that will connect you with others.
Show genuine interest.
One of the best ways to grow a relationship of any kind is to show genuine interest in the other person. Use their name when you speak to them. Give them your full attention. Show enthusiasm when you see them.
● Remember the things they’ve told you in the past. For example, if they tell you Friday that they’re going to see a movie, be sure to ask them about it the next time you see them. This is authentic connectivity.
Use your lunch hour wisely.
There’s a common saying in the business world - “Never eat alone.” Instead of just sitting there and eating your lunch alone, spend that time sharing a meal with someone. Or take time to connect with a professionally trained listener from Listeners On Call.
Think about the kind of people you naturally like when first meeting them. They’re probably pleasant, authentic, and joyful. We’ve all seen people that look very approachable. We’ve also all seen people that look very unapproachable. Be the former.
Be open and interesting.
Have an interesting life and be willing to discuss it. Who wants to hang out with someone that just works and watches TV?
● Do you breed dogs? Tell people about it.
● Do you compete in barbeque contests? Share that information.
● Maybe you collect Marvel comics or rescue cats. That’s interesting.
● However, realize that no one will know how interesting you are if you keep your life a secret! Be wiling to connect through shared human experiences.
Relationships add spice and stability to life. Human connection is the key to unlocking strong, healthy relationships that will impact the workplace and productivity. Team members can also potentially do a lot. As employees connect, they discover how nice it is to have a ride to the airport, be invited to parties, or to be offered opportunities that they’ve never considered. Encourage your employees to create healthy connections within the workplace. Also, offer them the option to talk to a listener at Listeners On Call. You never know how connected listening might decrease their stress and improve productivity.
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