Our focus this month is on the importance of creating connection both in the workplace and in life. Strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into work performance. How we feel profoundly effects how we perform. If you’ve been practicing any positivity exercises, you know what I mean!
Work relationships are incredibly important to employee well-being. It’s about more than just “getting along” with a co-worker. We are wired with a desire for social connection. We are social beings. It’s important to understand how important social connections are in the workplace and in our life.
Two examples that happened to me recently highlight this point. One of my work assignments has given me the opportunity to speak to high-ranking political and military officials. I don’t have any military experience so I was a little intimidated (in an awestruck way) to be interviewing a three star general. Here’s how the conversation started.
Lisa: Good morning, general, how are you today, sir?
General: Do you know what’s happening out here right now?
Lisa: (gulp, heart beating) No sir, what’s happening?
General: OPM [the Office of Personnel Management] just issued a snow dismissal order in the next 15 minutes due to snow.
Lisa: Wow, how much snow is predicted? Do we need to end this call now?
General: Well, I don’t take my orders from OPM so I’m staying put.
Lisa: You know, I always laugh a little with snow warnings. I grew up in Alaska and snow was something you just lived with six months out of the year. We still had to go outside for recess unless it was 20 degrees below zero!
At that point, the general and I shared a good laugh and told some snow stories, and a much more relaxed Lisa continued with the interview. There was a friendly ease in our conversation that I know was a result of finding a connection and building rapport before having to ask more serious questions.
My second example happened Sunday. There was a guest choir
at church and during Communion they sang Baba Yetu
, (The Lord’s Prayer)
in Swahili. I don’t know the language and I’ve never been to Africa, but when
the choir started singing, I couldn’t help but turn around and watch (the choir
was behind the audience). I noticed the whole congregation turned around as
well. The music was so amazing, and soul-filled people started moving to it.
Everyone’s face lit up with a smile. At that point, thousands of miles away, we
felt a connection to this inspiring African music. We didn’t understand the
words but we understood the sentiment that brought those words out in song.
Connection happens in many ways. I encourage you to check out the Creating Connection exercise this month on the Toolkit page of our website. Try it! And as always, I’d love to hear your stories of connection.