How about we start talking to each other?

I am incredibly lucky. Every day at mwah, I get to speak to people about the things that really matter at work. Relationships. Connection. Culture. Inclusion. Belonging. Talking to each other.

No matter what the discussion topic is, or the context or organisation in, or the industry, or even the type of person/team I am talking to – one thing continually comes up as the ‘answer’ to even the trickiest challenges that each group faces. The need to authentically connect with each other.

Some cases in point from recent work we have been doing at mwah;

Trying to get diversity and inclusion into the true DNA of your culture.

Lean in, learn each other stories, build relationships fostered from shared experiences.  Confidently explore differences. Connect.

Trying to remove silos and enable innovation?

Get to know each other, understand what each team is doing. Build relationships and trust so you can better collaborate and support each other. Connect.

The ‘answers’ are often the easiest part of solving these hairy conundrums.

The hard part is turning the stuff that looks easy on paper, into simple actions that each and every person on the team can own.

Which is what takes me to the very essence of this blog. The need to authentically connect with each other.

This is much more than a ‘corporate’ need designed to increase productivity (although it does that too). It’s a much more human intrinsic need for all of us as humans. The need and desire for talking to each other, connecting with one another.

And we know from the research in this space that relationships, directly (and positively), correlate to your overall happiness and enjoyment of your experience at work.

Connecting with other people

When I ask people about you – not the vague hypothetical ‘you’, but ‘you’ that lives in your house, drives your car, does your job and hangs out with your friends – yeah – that’s the real ‘you’. How you can go about connecting with other people’s work, a lot of the same ideas come out;

  • Team get togethers – company sponsored (of course), with a chance to chat over food and ideally, some nice drinks.
  • Team building events (which is strange, because although everybody asks for them, they seem to be almost universally hated during and after each event).
  • Better communication (or use of communication channels). Slack, email, meetings, conference calls, video sessions. How can we use these touch points to better connect?

While these are all great ideas (and they are), they are mostly quite ‘passive’. They rely on someone else to do the legwork to get them happening, so that each of us can just rock up, and use our allotted timeslot to connect with each other.  Whether this means Friday drinks, or building a boat together at a bush leadership retreat that is up to you.

So, what if we just called bullshit on this?

What if we stopped waiting for ‘permission’ to connect?

What if we stopped waiting ‘someone else’ to organise an event where we decide its ok to talk to each other?

What if we just approached connecting at work, like we do in our normal life?

A smile at someone on the bus, that leads into a pleasant conversation on the ride into work.

A small talk in a coffee line with your barista that builds over time – ‘Hey Charles, how did Tessa go at her first swimming lesson last week’?

The chat you have with the people who do the same yoga class as you?  

The ‘by chance’ friends you meet through life – at kid’s sport, through shared interests, and even online.

What if we each just started connecting with people at work as part of our normal rhythm? Simple things hold the most meaning. Things like;

  • Saying ‘hello’ to each other. And if you can’t muster the words, even a little smile as you cross paths with others.
  • Talking to the other person in the kitchen as you make your morning cup of tea.
  • Taking the time to learn more about the ‘real’ person you are working on a project with. What are three things you know about them outside of your work context?
  • Sitting with a different group at lunch or at the café? Inviting a new person in the business to coffee?
  • Leaning into to communication channels that exist and getting the most from them (sure these things are never perfect, but the trick is – if no one uses them, they rarely get any new investment to make them better…)
  • If a group interaction is your thing- get on the front foot and set something up. Even if it is small (and self-funded). If you build it, people will come.
The upside to connecting with each other is uncapped. Better, deeper, and more authentic relationships with each other.

Positive results

A better experience every day at work for each of us.

Better results for the overall teams and businesses we work with.

So, let’s just stop waiting. And being passive about something we naturally do in every other aspect of our lives.

Let’s get on the front foot and connect.

Talk to each other.

Lean into new relationships and opportunities.

Let’s make work, work for all of us.