• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • It’s wonderful when people initiate spontaneous connections with others. There’s nothing quite like the moment when you realize, in the middle of a stressful situation, that the people you are working with are actually human beings, with all sorts of dimensions and contours you never expected. Sharing a favorite song, or a tidbit of personal history, or the photo of a kid or a pet, dramatically increases the connective tissue.

    But human connections don’t always happen spontaneously. When stress is high, trust is low, and people don’t feel safe, they are far less likely to be open with each other about their humanity. This is the source of the awkward birthday lunch or bowling party: they are too-transparent efforts to paper over underlying issues with a forced and false conviviality.

    Formal events intended to connect people have their place, but they work best when they are built on a foundation of commitment to building connections and alignment every day. When you habitually treat your colleagues as humans every time you interact with them—through practices like focus and self-awareness, open-mindedness and empathy—you have a much more solid basis for engaging with their humanity as a whole.

    Every team has its own style of building a sense of human connection with authenticity and respect. That’s what makes human connections so wonderful and interesting: it’s always 100% local and specific to the people involved. Your team may love to get together an create an elaborate musical once a year. You may enjoy getting together one-to-one periodically to connect (check out the Slack Doughnut plugin for an automated way to facilitate this). There is no formula, and it’s only by continuing to pay attention to what’s working, trying experiments and adjusting as needed, that you can foster a sense of engagement that remains alive and spontaneous.

    Try It: Consider what it would mean for your team to humanize your interactions. First explore how you can relate to each other with greater empathy, self-awareness and open-mindedness day by day. Then take a look at how you might celebrate your humanity together in ways that grow out of your individual uniqueness and your collective commonalities.

    Image:zabethanne https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/