Let me tell you something about Ben. Ben is a senior engineer in an international company dealing with multiple complex projects. He is confident and very experienced, has lots of knowledge and competencies with demanding projects he is in charge of.
Ben is also supervising a small team of five. When it comes to running meetings with his team he likes to keep them short and generally isn’t what you would say to be a very talkative guy. Therefore his meetings are short but with lots of data being shared. Often after meetings ended, his team members would send their questions via texts or chats. Ben wonders why they couldn’t ask them during the meeting.
His colleague said about him: “Ben is never rude or impolite to us. He simply doesn’t like to talk much and prefers clear and short conversations. He speaks in a professional manner and on a bit serious note. Although I wish we could sometimes have just a regular informal chat as well or share something funny that happened during the day.”
Ben is not really aware of how people see him as a manager but doesn’t talk about it much either. He is always preoccupied with thinking about projects and what needs to be done. He was surprised when John told him he was leaving for another job. He thought John was doing fine, never complained to him or expressed his intentions of leaving. They never had any issues either.
Do you know any Ben yourself?
We are all sometimes unaware of how others are interpreting what we say or do even when we think we know it and it can impact the relationships we have. How accurately do you think other people see you? How easy or natural does it come to you to connect with people you work with? There are lots of ways to create a more connected workplace. I will share my top few:
1) Recognize various connection needs of your team members: their preferred communication styles, their behaviors and values. We bring so many of our personal differences when we come to work and it is important to acknowledge them, become aware of them and appreciate them, as they can be what makes or breaks our relationships with people. Perhaps we do not have the need for long conversations, but there are others around us who are not alike, and understanding what is important to that person is how we can connect with them.
2) Be engaged in your conversations and remember that we receive valuable data from so many different aspects around us and especially the ones that are coming through emotions and feelings people share. When someone enters your office when you are busy and interrupts you, what do you do? Do you pause for a moment to answer to your colleague? Do you look at that person while talking to him/her? Are you making sure you are present and engaged or do you respond not even lifting your gaze off from your laptop, while replying as quick and short as you can and you carry on with what you were doing already? If you are doing the later, then you are probably leaving the space for your colleagues to assume things like:
- You don’t really like him/her
- You don’t care about what they have to say
- Or they are questioning themselves thinking if they did something wrong to you
Needles to say, but none of these helps with creating connection.
3) Develop social skills and consider how you can use them in your interactions to create deeper connections, so that others can understand you better and that you can understand them too. Learning these skills is what you will benefit from no matter where you work and whom you work with, as we all want to be understood and appreciated at work. That is a lot easier to accomplish and show them to your team members when you have worked on these skills and now you have them working for you.
Emotional intelligence is what can be increased at any stage in your life, no matter your age or circumstances if practiced.
“Emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head- it is the unique intersection of both” – David Caruso
4) Create space for openness for everyone to express their ideas and concerns. One thing that can instantly ruin your chance to develop such a workplace is being overly judgmental. Even when we don’t mean to say we disagree with someone or we think that Lisa’s idea is ridiculous, remember that our emotions are shown in our bodies as well, not only in our words. The way we speak, the way we look at others, the way we sit, if we are not aware of what we are broadcasting out there, it will have impact on our relationships, a positive or a negative one.
After all, it is a fact that having positive human connections is what makes us happier, more productive and it also helps to increase revenue in our businesses. Knowing that, can you think of anything that you can do today to make the connection with one person in your team today healthier and maybe just 10% better than it is?
You may not have control over so many things in your job, at your organization, in your role, but if there is one single thing over which you do have control and over which you will always have it is to choose yourself every day and how you are showing up in your interactions, because with every interaction you have you are either making or breaking those relationships.
Author: Ana Toroman, Talent Development Consultant
Being a part of training and development education programs across companies in the Middle East, I help people develop their potential through learning key social skills for career building, with a particular interest in emotional resilience in the workplace. Having started my career in HR and education and working as a Corporate Trainer & a Coach in Dubai, I work on self-development strategies for both teams and individuals. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here or follow me on Instagram on HR and Wellbeing page here