#In-It-Together; Welcome to 2021?
Like many of us, I am in shock at the siege of our Capitol building here in the U.S. While I am not political, I am heartbroken by the divisive events and de-humanizing discussions in our country recently. These are only symptoms of a greater challenge we have, not just as Americans, but as human beings. The problem is our lack of connection. So how do we change the trajectory for 2021?
As humans, we are WIRED for connection. We crave it. Our brains look for it. And when we don’t find it, we develop mental and physical health issues, along with some potentially irrational responses, as we try to find it.
The further we disconnect from each other, the worse the symptoms. That is why top health officials say connecting remotely with friends and family during quarantine is vital for mental health. In addition, connecting to each other as people BEFORE connecting based on roles, viewpoints and ideology is also at the core of bringing us back together.
Research has supported this over and over in the business literature for years. Google’s two-year study on team effectiveness showed psychological safety as the #1 factor for team success. Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work measures trust as the most vital element for organizational success, followed by purpose and camaraderie. Brene’ Brown has decades of research on human connection, vulnerability and trust to re-emphasize this point.
We are MOST SUCCESSFUL as a species and as a community when we are #In-It-Together. And for us to even think about bringing our country, our work, and our world back together again, we must start by making the connections with our colleagues, team members, and each other, personal.
So how do we build connection? Here are a few ideas to start the conversation.
- Build Trust One Action at a Time
Yes, we have all heard this, but how many of us do a good job with it? Easy to say, harder to execute. Trust is built or broken in every moment and every interaction. Brene’ Brown calls this a collection of marbles. Stephen Covey calls it the emotional (trust) bank account. Whichever way we think about it, every single interaction, or FAILURE to act when we could have, builds or breaks trust.
“Did I keep my word on a commitment?” (trust builder)
“Did I fail to acknowledge someone’s feelings before jumping in?” (breaker)
“Did I show up with respect for other people’s viewpoints?” (builder)
…”or shut them down with interruptions?” (breaker)
Intentional or not, every moment and every interaction is a reflection of who we are. Did I elevate to the highest version of myself or sink to my lowest triggers and fears in that interaction? They all matter.
- Psychological Safety for the Win
It’s a big word that means I feel good about sharing something with you or taking a risk and you won’t make me feel inferior if you don’t agree or if it fails. A personal relationship is the foundation for psychological safety. If we don’t know each other and care about each other at a personal level, how can we ever feel comfortable having the deeper conversations that solve the big problems of the world or the problems on our team? When we feel safe, we have the power to expand and grow. When we do not, we are always watching our backs and not bringing our full self to the party. We cannot fix our issues without some risks and difficult conversations. Those can only happen when we feel safe to have them and we provide an environment where others feel safe as well. HBR has a nice article highlighting some ways to do this.
- Use our Natural Human Communication Methods
How we communicate shows who we are. Do we communicate with respect? Are we all in? Do we listen with engagement? Do we pick up on all the cues we get and act on them?
Interestingly, the pandemic has created some new challenges to communication. Research shows that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is paralanguage (volume, pace etc..) and ONLY 7% of meaning comes from our WORDS. That means voice only and written communication while working from home leaves more than 50% of communication on the table. And, we are creating serious screen fatigue while our brain tries to compensate for the missing 55% of body language cues. We do not have access to the macro and micro expressions we use to translate and communicate which can create misunderstandings and unclear meaning.
Want to connect better with others and feel their connection to you? Turn on your video please! And also be kind and clear in written and oral communication. It is easily misunderstood.
- Find Mutual Purpose and Meaning
Great teams and great relationships share a mutual higher human purpose. When we come together to help others in a meaningful way, we can move mountains. We saw this during the early pandemic response as organizations and teams shattered barriers and ceilings to make things happen for others. We see this every time we get behind a large goal that is bigger than just our little world.
At the top of everything we do as humans, there is meaning and purpose. We are wired to connect and to help and serve each other. When we can find that common ground, we succeed and win. Whether it’s putting a man on the moon in the ‘60s to finding a vaccine in 2020 to helping our customers live a better life, having a mutual and impactful purpose is the start.
Our Congress did that Jan 6. They came back to finish the electoral college certification because they had a common goal of preserving democracy in the face of chaos. They compromised and still heard out the objections (freedom of speech) while also pushing forward to end the debate and move on as quickly as possible. Planned objections for multiple states were streamlined and Congress came together with all opinions heard in a peaceful way. That is the power of mutual purpose.
And by the way, working with purpose also releases neurochemical oxytocin which makes us trust more and feel better! Bonus!
I hope we can learn from the events of the last several months and even the last few years. I know we will come out stronger as a country and as a world for having gone through them. I talk a lot about the gifts of the pandemic and 2020. Learning to connect with others is a big one!
Now go forth and connect with each other! And if you need help, please reach out to us at GVG for virtual workshops on pandemic resilience, team effectiveness and 21st-century leader and work practices.
The future of work is now, and it’s personal!