I was reminded today, at a meeting I was facilitating with a client and their team, about the power of connection. The person in charge of the company was commenting on how lonely they sometimes feel – dealing with all of the issues, responding to everyone’s needs and problems, and trying to keep a game face on during times of trial. The colleagues sitting there were shocked at this comment – “I thought you just wanted us to keep our heads down and focus on results,” said one person.
In a meeting last week with a team of managers, I heard how much they wished their president would indicate that he understands the issues they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. As one person said, “He doesn’t need to fix everything – just come around from time to time to tell us that he understands.”
I call this the power of connection. We are human beings, and we need relationship with others to survive and thrive. The way things are moving – faster and faster all the time – we are “connected” to people 24/7 via texts, iPads and email, but we aren’t really connecting in a meaningful way that matters in many cases. People in both situations said, “Just a visit to my office once in a while would be nice, to see how I am doing.” It isn’t enough to send a text and let someone know you are thinking about them – they want to see you, touch you and sometimes even get a hug from you to show them you do really care.
We aren’t often focused on the other person in any given situation, and especially in a work situation. We think it is non-productive sometimes to take the time to inquire about how someone is doing, or let them know we recognize their contribution. Instead we push for results. We push for answers and we push to get more and more done in less time. We’ve dehumanized the workplace in too many situations and many people are feeling the pain as a result.
Businesses have to make money. They have to be profitable. It simply isn’t feasible to think we could sit around all day supporting one another and patting one another on the back! That’s not what I mean here by the power of connection. The power lies in recognizing that there are others working alongside you every day. While the work is foremost in importance, knowing the person and sensing their humanness and their vulnerability are important, too. Starting to pay more attention to the people around you by being an Interested Observer in your interactions is a key first step.
In both situations, the people involved were floored that these feelings and thoughts existed in the people who voiced them. “Why didn’t you say something?” is often a response. But we don’t allow people the room they need, in many cases, to open up and share with us. We are too busy being focused on our own assignments or priorities.
Taking time to make that connection can be valuable in many ways. First, we show kindness and compassion to someone who needs it, but we also deepen a relationship that we may need in the future, too. We all benefit from the connectedness – be it in emotional support or physical/tangible support to get through our day.
This week, in your workplace or work situation, see if there is someone you can reach out and connect with in a deeper way. Is there someone around you who is struggling and could use a hand? Is there someone who seems to need to share their obstacles and frustrations? Is there someone you could brainstorm with to get better answers? Someone in your universe is waiting for you to reach out and connect to them – make it a point to find out who they are and do just that this week.