From the moment we’re born, our ability to connect is tied to our very survival. The stronger our bonds, the more we thrive. Unfortunately, stress and technology have altered the ways in which we socially interact with others, and the lack of connection is threatening our health.
In a groundbreaking 2010 study, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD found that individuals with strong social bonds are 50 percent less likely to die over a given period of time than those who have fewer social connections.*
Considering that we spend a significant amount of time in the office, it’s important we tap into meaningful ways to connect at work.
According to Stanford University’s BeWell website, building a culture of connection in the workplace can reduce stress hormones, create better engagement and productivity, increase the sharing of ideas, and even reduce mortality rates.
So where do we start? BeWell offers a series of common sense tips that entail practicing positivity, being proactive and polite, and searching for common ground. Small engagements such as greeting one another at the beginning and end of the day, or expressing thanks to a colleague who lends a hand can seem obvious, but these interactions are often lost in today’s fast-paced environment. Emphasizing positives, proactively helping others, and using constructive language when offering feedback are other techniques that can lead to stronger bonds with colleagues.
For those in management roles, Inc. magazine offers eight ways that exceptional leaders connect in the office. Some of their best advice includes:
Showing up as your true self.
The term ‘authenticity’ frequently gets thrown around, but what does it really mean? According to Inc., authenticity is showing up as your true self as opposed to hiding, withdrawing, stonewalling, or putting on a mask. Being yourself requires vulnerability, but when you lead from the mind and the heart, you open the way for connection.
Treat yourself and others as human beings.
We’re all fallible and mistakes will and do happen. Accepting this universal truth helps lessen the fear of trying a new idea or testing a new initiative. It also makes it possible to safely own up to mistakes when they occur.
Information sharing and transparency during both good times and bad is beneficial for everyone. Don’t delegate important information to others. Clarity, honesty, engagement, and genuine interest in your colleagues fosters connection on an emotional level.
Listen to understand.
In today’s harried work environment, it often seems that we’re all vying to get our point across. To be authentic and truly present, you need to be a good listener. Listening is about helping, which is at the center of true connection. To be an effective listener, try to put in your own words what you’ve just heard and ask questions to gather feelings and opinions on the topic at hand.
Inc. perfectly explains that, “People respond to leaders they can trust, and are motivated to the rafters in trustworthy organizations. Why? Because they feel safe.”
“When employees are allowed to take risks, exercise their creativity, communicate ideas openly, and work alongside their leaders as partners — not worker bees — in a spirit of collaboration, you will see your employee satisfaction surveys skyrocket.”