Do you know those moments where you’re down or stressed or just “done with everything”? In a day that feels ruined the after the first meeting at work we often only feel like going home and hiding under the covers. Living in denial of a demanding reality seems very appealing. And it seems it’s the only solution to make things better.
You drag your feet back from the meeting room to your office, barely looking up and lost in your own thoughts of misery, when from somewhere you hear “Hey, how’s it going? So good to see you!” A colleague stopped you in your tracks and you chat for a moment. It’s just a couple of minutes and yet you have a bounce in your step as you continue to your office. You feel uplifted, feel cared for and somehow much more alive than just before.
You’ve just experienced a positive micro-moment of connection, a high-quality connection as the researchers call them. They’re like a shot in the arm if you need more vitality and energy.
So how can you make others feel more alive?
It All Starts in Your Head: Think Deliberately
The first step you take is increasing your awareness of others. Do you really “see” them? Notice what your colleagues are doing, what they might be thinking and what situation they’re in. Don’t look away when you meet someone on the hallway, put your phone out of sight when talking to your colleagues so you can give them your full attention.
Second, make a good impression, even if the other one doesn’t. First impressions can be tough, but always remember that in our worst moments we have a hard time coming across as warm, accepting and supportive. If you feel the other person is lacking all those things, make an extra effort to bring some warmth, acceptance and support to the connection yourself. Are you frowning or smiling? Arms crossed or relaxed and open?
Lastly, put yourself in their shoes. Deliberately taking the perspective of another person is the cognitive component of empathy. This goes beyond “ah, I see you have a huge pile of work”. It means that you can understand the impact this pile of work has on the other. You get why they answer you curtly and can react in a caring way that shows concern for them rather than being offended.
Being intentional about how you think about others makes you more open to connect with them at work and opens the door for creating such a positive micro-moment of connection.
Let Your Heart Follow: Leveraging Emotions
Whether you like it or not, you feel something. There’s still much discussion between the badly informed whether emotions at work are appropriate. The fact is, unless you turn into a robot the moment you enter the office, the lab or the shop floor, you have emotions. And since they’re there, why not use them as a force for good?
You can trigger positive emotions (which come with a vast amount of benefits) in others. For example you could intentionally provide something to your colleague (information, cookies) that’s valuable for them. They then feel the positive emotion gratitude and they start to see more of what’s good in you. All that positively contributes your immediate connection and the longer term relationship.
Another way to make use of your emotions is sharing the good feelings. Don’t hold back when you feel joy or interest or curiosity. Show those emotions, they’re contagious in the best sense of the word. By expressing the good feeling you have in that moment, you give others the chance to feel them, too, and this makes the quality of your connection even better.
As a third step, show some empathy. Earlier we learned that taking the perspective of another is only half of the equation. The other half is “feeling what the other is feeling”. This makes your connection more compassionate. It’s also a key part of emotional and relational intelligence which are oh so important if you want to work well with others and get anything meaningful done.
All of the above influences how you connect with others. Your emotions make you more open to connect and in this way you invite others to engage with you as well. Together you build and strengthen positive micro-moments of connection, or high-quality connections.
Head and heart in the right place will make a positive difference for yourself, your colleagues and your whole organisation.