Your ability to influence and impact others requires that you build bonds and trust. To do this, you must be able to connect genuinely – and well.
How can you increase your connectivity in a world of urgency and speed?
This actually is a matter of life and death, if we are to extrapolate from MIT professor and researcher Sherry Turkle, who wrote the book Reclaiming Conversations. Turkle reveals that because of the increasing decline of empathy among the younger generations, we are now witnessing depression, anxiety, and stress climbing quickly. In fact, Turkle observes that we are seeing the most severe depression in teenagers today that we have ever noted in the entire written history of psychology.
The business world suffers from a lack of connection, as well.
In my leadership and culture work, one of my most sought-after management trainings is “Leading from the Heart,” where people learn how to reconnect and flex their empathy to create a more positive and productive work experience. I cannot tell you how many participants continue to stress that this learning has changed their world at work.
People are hungry for connection.
Turkle cites “superficial connectedness” as a chief culprit. This interferes with deeper, more meaningful exchanges and opportunities to reflect upon and synthesize information for greater critical thinking.
A chief factor is technology.
It facilitates an influx of information that increases daily, and it enables us to communicate at warp speed. This gift is often misused, and the sheer magnitude of incoming can create an imposed need to respond just as quickly.
There are other factors that impel us to respond to the tyranny of the urgent.
Jeff Bezos is quoted to have said, “Go fast and break things!”
Words and phrases like velocity and warp speed are touted as prized – and indeed, the global marketplace shifts constantly as the earth rotates.
However, must this become the new culture?
Because when it comes to connection, speed can be dangerous.
As speed pushes us forward, our personal resources to slow down and connect with others diminish. Along with this, empathy begins to wither.
How can you begin to make your way back to making meaningful connections in a business world that assuredly continues to gain speed?
Here are three ways that will help you get back on track to make connecting an intentional and rewarding experience:
Place boundaries around your technology use.
A study by global tech protection and support company Asurion reveals that the average person struggles to move beyond 10 minutes without checking their phone. In fact, this study reveals that Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes, burying their faces in their phones 80 times a day.
Get creative with how you minimize your technology when you are meeting to connect with others.
Place the phone on “airplane mode.”
If this idea makes you cringe, begin by giving your phone to your assistant and alerting him or her to let you know if certain urgent calls come in.
Turn your computer’s e-mail alerts off.
Studies show that each distraction makes you lose 20 minutes of focus – in other words, it will take you a full 20 minutes to get your head back into concentrating on what you were doing prior to the distraction.
Have an inviting seating area in your office or meeting place with no tech devices such as computers or iPads.
Better yet, ask if you can walk outside together as you talk. This is not only invigorating, but it removes all office distractions and allows for deeper conversations. Old-fashioned. Retro. Connective.
Flex your empathy by reviving your deep listening skills.
Are you truly listening to connect, or are you just waiting for a pause so that you can jump in?
Check yourself to make sure you are giving full focus to the other person. Ask questions – and ask the “follow-up question” to go deeper. Listen to learn and not to fix. Ask to understand and not to get to the bottom of things. Observe to widen your perspective, and not to make a quick judgment.
Invest in your connections.
In such a fast-paced world, your circles of influence are probably bursting. Identify the handful that you feel you need to play an active and meaningful part in your world, and plan connection with them. That’s breakfast, coffee, golf, or some face-to-face activity that gives you time to have different and more rewarding conversations.
Technology and the speed of change are here for good. Let’s make sure our ability to make and sustain meaningful connections rises to meet them.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.