The Power of Connection
In this age of digital and social media domination and a world where more and more individuals work in a non-traditional office environment, intentionality in building relationships is necessary to build trust and nurture long-term successful partnerships.
There are many interpretations of connection and ways to interact with others. But what are the ways to connect that develop trust and deepen communication? As business owners and leaders, how do you build a culture of connection among your employees, vendor partners, clients, and community?
Think about your past week at work and at home. When you asked a co-worker, spouse, or child the question, "How are you doing?" how did they respond? If your week was like mine, the answer was "I’m busy" or "I’m fine." I learned a long time ago, "fine" isn’t a feeling, and "busy" isn’t a badge you earn in boy or girl scouts.
True connections are about getting past the "busy" and "fine" of life. Connections are about conversations that reveal curiosity, vulnerability, emotions, and at times, difficult topics. I’ve worked with many managers throughout my career who weren’t comfortable building true connections with their teams. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t know where to start or what to say. I’ve seen employees who are hesitant to inform a client or customer of a mistake because they don’t know them well enough to know how they will respond. Trust and connection eliminate this uncertainty.
So, what can you do to begin building connections with others throughout all aspects of business and personal life? The following are foundations for great partnerships.
- Invite conversation and schedule time. Be intentional about making time for others with no other motivation than to listen and understand. Date nights with a spouse, monthly check-ins with team members, and quarterly or semi-annually check-ins with clients ensure you have time built into your schedule for these important interactions.
- Smile and make eye contact. Studies have shown smiling increases mood-enhancing hormones and decreases stress-enhancing hormones. Smiling conveys positive intent to the other person. Eye contact demonstrates your undivided attention and focuses on the other individual.
- Listen to understand. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their perspective. Focus on asking questions instead of trying to solve issues.
- Ask, “And what else?” Dig deeper and be curious by asking follow-up questions which can increase vulnerability, demonstrate your engagement in the conversation, and build trust.
- Always be respectful. Treat others how they want to be treated vs. how you want to be treated. Those can be two different things. For example, you might like to be given time to process on your own, while some prefer to do it out loud with other people. Part of this is getting to know an individual well enough to understand what they need to be at their best. Relationships are a journey and when difficult conversations occur at work or personally, be considerate and humble.
- Be honest and authentic. Be brave and vulnerable enough to tell the truth regardless of the outcome to another individual. This is a sign of trust and relatability.
These simple actions are building blocks to creating long-lasting partnerships. Strong connections in business with others lead to increased employee retention, employee engagement, and ultimately increased profitability through client retention and referrals.
I am grateful to work with an organization whose value proposition is to connect daily through client service and honored to work with a team of individuals who understand the power and importance of connecting with one another, the businesses we serve, and the communities we live in.
Kellie Gottner, Connectify Chief Human Resources & Client Experience Officer