Wednesday 8 February 2023

Human Connection

I wrote recently about the vagaries of blogging, and how interesting it was that a fairly light-hearted post, such as one I wrote about my self-consciousness when putting my foot down when cycling, seemed to generate more interest than more thoughtful (and I hoped) thought-provoking pieces about my professional work.

Then, over the last week or so, I have been struck by the far, far higher level of engagement in response to a brief post about meeting my new grandson for the first time. I think that was partly as a result of the picture that accompanied the post - he is very photogenic. But I also suspect that something else is going on here, and that is about human connection.

I have written before about the huge importance of giving attention to others, and the impact that can have. This is, of course, foundational in any coaching or mentoring work, and it is no coincidence that the first, and arguably most important, of Nancy Kline's components of a Thinking Environment, is Attention.  However, I would argue that it is equally important in many other settings.

Last week, I facilitated an event for fifty or so people to refresh the Global Strategy of a Russell Group University. I started the day by reminding them of the need to pay attention to each other, throughout the day, and inviting them to do so during the introductions, when I asked them to say (in addition to who they were) something that had made them smile recently. That, of course, made people smile: and also invited them to share human moments. A few commonalities emerged - cats, children, natural beauty, and so on - and the result, I think, was that there was a real sense of human connection.  And I nearly hadn't done it: 50 people taking just 30" each meant nearly half an hour. But it was half an hour well-invested.

Likewise, we structured the various activities in ways that supported attention and connections (and reminded them of the importance of attention regularly). Several told me that this reminder and the way it was embodied in the design of the day, had made it very different - more engaging, more generative, more enjoyable, and more energising - than their typical awaydays.

The same applies to teams, to relationships between line managers and reports... in fact just about everywhere, except ChatGPT. Human connection is essential.

Of course it takes time; but if you haven't got time for other people, we know what that communicates: you don't value them. And if you don't value them, why would you expect to get good outcomes from your interactions?

On the other hand, if you take the time, and make the effort, to connect as human beings, not only will the relationship be more satisfying, but it is likely to be more productive; and that productivity will also be more sustainable, as the mental and psychological benefits of human connection are well understood.

But that's not the most important reason to connect. The most important reason is because it is the human thing to do. All else flows from that.

And thanks to everyone who connected with me about my grandson's birth!

No comments:

Post a Comment