High-Quality Connections are what Positive Psychology Directory is all about
High-quality connections are so important but in our careers, we’ve all met colleagues that have made our lives miserable. It might have been a boss that treats you like a dog, co-workers were that rude, or a bundle of little frustrations and problems that you felt like you couldn’t solve or communicate to your office. These types of social interactions might seem small, but research has consistently demonstrated that they have a huge impact in how satisfied people are with their jobs and their overall productivity.
However, this workplace negativity can be transformed through the power of high-quality connections. High-quality connections are rich, positive and meaningful interactions between people, which leave them feeling open, energetic and uplifted[i]. In the workplace, the presence of high-quality connections has been demonstrated to improve mood, decrease stress and anxiety, boost performance, employee retention and even increase workplace learning.
High-quality connections have the magical ability to change a dreary and unrewarding job into a place where people are content and productive. Having a high-quality connection with a peer is not the same as being friends, or even developing rapport; high-quality connections can be brief and fleeting experiences between two people with any type of relationship. Nonetheless, high-quality connections are stimulating, vivid and memorable.
Here at Positive Psychology Directory, the value of high-quality connections cannot be understated. Our website thrives in connecting coaches and Positive Psychology Practitioners who themselves should understand that people flourish when they are connected to each other.
High-Quality Connections in the Workplace
So, how can you make high-quality connections in the workplace? Jane Dutton, the author of Energize Your Workplace: How to Create & Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work argues that there are several straight forward methods[ii].
Firstly, whenever you interact with another person you must make an effort to be mindful and present. In life it’s easy to be distracted by all of our responsibilities and daydreams and this is especially true whilst on the job. Yet by not paying our full attention to our interactions with colleagues, we become less responsive and lower our ability to recognize and interpret social cues. Simply paying attention to the people around you is often enough to make people feel valued[iii]; you show that you consider them important enough to drop what’s currently occupying mind and give them the spotlight.
Another stepping stone to a high-quality connection is to be genuine[iv]. While some people may be more gifted in the social graces compared to others, almost everyone has an uncanny ability to tell whether people are acting authentic or inauthentic. Being inauthentic in our interactions with others gives off bad signal and makes other people question our intent. Too many workplaces try and force their employees to be positive and friendly with each other, but end up souring the atmosphere due to the ‘false’ positivity created.
Instead, it’s better to put changes in place to make people feel genuinely positive rather than pretend to be. You should convey what you feel and be honest, whilst still attempting to be interested and upbeat. Alternatively, if someone at the workplace suggests a viable positive change, such as offering to cover a shift or a welcome party for a new employee, facilitate the suggestion if at all possible to generate a connected workplace environment.
High-quality connections are also formed through effective listening. People can think much faster than the speed at which other people talk and this leads to the mind wandering when we listen to others – we are guilty of ‘zoning out’ during an important conversation once or twice in our lives. Additionally, most of us are also guilty of focusing on our own goals during a conversation, only listening in order to have our turn to speak. Make an active effort to change your listening habits; your goal during a conversation should be to understand and respond to the other person, not just to get your point across.
To add to our list is ‘communicating affirmation’, which is the fancy way of saying ‘make people feel valued’. Communicating affirmation is partially about recognizing the positive traits of other people during a conversation with them. It might involve simply taking note when a job has been done well or talking about the strengths of another person, such as their excellent organizational skills when it is appropriate to do so.
It can be difficult to find genuine opportunities to communicate affirmation, but when they exist, you should jump on them. It’s important to also be genuine here too; if you recognize a strength which doesn’t exist, you might come across as sarcastic, which is counter-productive. You can also make people feel valued by recognizing that their time is precious and be considerate and grateful when you request their time[v].
Additionally, you can also use supportive communication to help create high-quality connections. In the workplace, it’s not always easy to communicate with people. There are deadlines, conflicts, and problems that need to be solved. However, there are certain ways of talking and phrasing that can help solve problems and address issues and ways of talking that exacerbate issues.
Firstly, you should avoid being defensive. When you are addressing an issue or making a point, the message you are trying to convey isn’t about you or anything you have done and being defensive just derails the conversation; accept blame if necessary. Also, ensure that you talk clearly and the message you are trying to convey is coherent. Frequently problems arise just due to slight misunderstandings arising from poor word choices – leave no room for a misinterpretation.
On the flip side, supportive communication also involves avoiding sarcasm and threats. It’s also about not framing debates in terms of winning or losing but rather about the exchange of ideas. If you are focused on ‘winning’ a debate, then your aggressive attitude to conversation might prevent someone from speaking their mind and providing valuable input.
Another technique to cultivate high-quality connections is to develop trust between yourself and other people. Show your trust in others by delegating important tasks, sharing responsibilities, allocating resources, consulting them for their ideas and asking for their feedback. It’s also important to be consistent in how you treat other people and your overall mood; people cannot trust you if you are volatile and they don’t know what they can expect from you on a day-to-day basis.
Finally, be energetic in your interactions with other people. If you pay attention to the other person and become an effective listener, energy will naturally flow in your conversation. However, you can also make a deliberate effort to be upbeat, responsive and engaged, without going too far and appearing inauthentic. Either way, it’s important to take the initiative and put your energy into the conversation first, instead of only responding and soaking up the enthusiasm of other people.
High-Quality Connections Concluded
Even though the concept of high-quality connections has only been explored over the past 20 years, the techniques involved in developing high-quality connections are much older. Paying attention to the other person, being genuine, developing listening skills, making people feel valued (confirmative communication) being constructive, cultivating trust and displaying energy are tried and tested methods.
Try it for yourself and see whether you can make high-quality connections thrive at your workplace; it may be much easier than you think!
High-Quality Connections References
[i] Mind Tools Editorial Team. How to Make “High-Quality Connections”: Creating an Energetic Workplace. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/high-quality-connections.htm [Accessed: 25th August 2016)
[ii] Dutton, J.E. and Heaphy E.D. 2003. Energize the Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Interactions At Work pp.[263-278
[iii] Dutton J.E. 2003. Fostering High-Quality Connections: How to Deal With Corrosive Relationships at Work. Standford Social Innovation Review. Available at: http://ssir.org/articles/entry/fostering_high_quality_connections [Accessed: 25th August 2016]
[iv] Rosales R. M. 2015. Energizing Social Interactions at Work: An Exploration of Relationships That Generate Employee and Organizational Thriving. Capstone Projects pp58-61
[v] Rosales R. M. 2015. Energizing Social Interactions at Work: An Exploration of Relationships That Generate Employee and Organizational Thriving. Capstone Projects pp58-61