Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners, provides insights about leadership training, team building, communications and executive coaching. E Pluribus Partners focuses on results-driven initiatives that maximize employee engagement, employee retention, employee productivity, innovation and profitability.
This post begins our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.
#1 Develop the Courage to Connect – It requires courage to make the effort to connect because not everyone will reciprocate. You may hold out your fist to invite a “fist bump” only find you are left hanging or you may say “hi” to a passerby and receive no response. When our efforts to connect are spurned it triggers “social pain” in our brains (the part of the brain that feels physical pain becomes active when we are left out of a group or our efforts to connect with someone are turned down). That’s why it’s necessary to be prepared by knowing that not all people will connect with us. In such cases, we need to recognize that we made the effort and had the courage to do so. Of the three core elements of a connection culture, this practice reflects “Value,” which is also known as “human value.”
Update: It’s been a busy beginning to the summer. I just returned from speaking at conferences and teaching workshops in Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans. People in attendance at the workshops represented a wide variety of organizations including Allstate, AAA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, FINRA, the U.S. Government Services Administration, Leo Burnett, Liberty Mutual, Northern Trust, and United Airlines. Recently, I also spoke with Jim Blasingame on his radio program entitled The Small Business Advocate. You can hear recordings of topics we covered during the conversation at the links below:
Recently I was speaking at a university about the importance of connection and Connection Cultures to help students, faculty and staff thrive in institutions of higher education. After I spoke, the president of the divinity school came up to me and said I needed to see a great new comedy entitled Warm Bodies. He informed me that the movie is about mummies who are brought back to life by human connection. How great is that! Check out the trailer above. I plan the watch the movie on iTunes this weekend.
In Untangling the Mind: Why We Behave the Way We Do, D. Theodore George, M.D., a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health, describes a new model for understanding America’s surge in emotional and behavioral disorders. Earlier this year, a report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found that comparing a peer group of 17 wealthy countries, Americans under 50 now have the lowest life expectancy and fall at the bottom (i.e. were the worst) of nearly every morbidity category from deaths by substance abuse, sexual-related diseases, infant mortality, violence and sedentary lifestyles that contribute to diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The report points out that in the years following World War II, America was near or at the top of the peer group. It rightly concludes that something clearly is wrong but, unfortunately, fails to provide a satisfactory explanation. The problem has become so acute that earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures that show suicide rates haven sharply increased so that more Americans now die from suicide than from motor vehicle accidents.
Fortunately, Dr. George’s book helps us understand what’s going wrong. In his view, traumas experienced by 75 percent of the population result in faulty brain wiring that makes people vulnerable to the stressors, threats and fears we experience in modern life, including the chronic stress many people experience in today’s workplace. The faulty wiring misinterprets threats and fears by blowing them way out of proportion. This results in emotional and behavioral disorders. When people don’t feel well emotionally – i.e. they are angry, anxious, withdrawn, bored, depressed, etc. – they frequently cope in ways that result in addiction (e.g. substance abuse, promiscuity, porn addiction, eating disorders, cutting). Although these addictive behaviors provide temporary relief, they hijack the brain’s reward system and eventually kick in the anti-reward system so that people need a fix of the coping behavior to feel better from the unpleasant sensations of withdrawal. Read more »
After American and British troops took control of the beaches on D-Day, they got stuck in France’s hedgerow country. Sergeant Curtis Cullen, a former cab driver from Chicago, came up with an innovation that General Omar Bradley, commander of America’s First Army, credited with helping to liberate France. Watch the video to learn about this extraordinary story of innovation and the leaders and culture that made it all possible.
Are you working in a “culture of connection” where you feel a sense of connection to your supervisor, your colleagues, your day-to-day job tasks, and your organization’s mission, values and reputation? A connection culture is life-giving as compared to a culture of indifference or culture of dominance that drain the life out of you. To learn more, check out the video interview I did with Michelle Pokorny of Maritz Motivation following the keynote speech I gave at the Recognition Professionals International Annual Conference in New Orleans.
It’s been said that attention is oxygen for relationships. That’s why it’s important when meeting with an individual, to develop the habit of being present by staying focused on him or her and giving your full attention. Be engaged and curious by asking questions and then ask follow-up questions to clarify. Listen carefully to words and observe facial expressions and body cues. Pause before you respond to make certain he or she has finished. Don’t check your smart phone, don’t look at your watch, don’t look around the room or let your mind wander. Develop the habit of being present during conversations and you will soon see how it improves your relationships and influence.
Update: Engagement Strategies Magazine just featured an article we wrote entitled “Do Leaders Need to Make Employees Happy?” This week I had the pleasure of giving a keynote speech on employee engagement at the Recognition Professionals Association’s annual conference in New Orleans. Later this month I’ll be speaking on inclusion and innovation at the Dallas Convention Center as part of the American Society for Training and Development’s International Exposition and Conference. We will also be exhibiting at ASTD so if you’re attending, please come visit us.
Check out this Atlantic article about Harvard professor George Vaillant re-visiting the research from his study of human thriving, which happens to be the longest longitudinal study on the topic. Vaillant’s study concludes that happiness comes from experiencing love in relationships over the course of one’s life. To learn more, I encourage you to read the fascinating article entitled “What Makes Us Happy?” written by my friend Joshua Wolf Shenk (it was the Atlantic’s cover story in June 2009).
More astute observers who work with the poor see that “poverty is broken relationships” and a connection culture is required to restore human dignity, productivity and prosperity. Check out this insightful piece entitled “Restoring Broken Relationships” by Sean Dimond of Agros International. You can also hear echoes of what Sean described in Acumen’s Manifesto.
Many thanks to Riley Kiltz of Cephas Partners and Paul Michalski of the New Canaan Society for bringing these examples to my attention.
Connection is the bond among individuals in a group that moves them to care for and help the group and its members. The power of human connection to unite, inspire and heal has been on full display of late in West, Texas; Boston; and at the NCAA men’s basketball final. To learn more, check out the articles below.
Boston Bombing Followed by Stories of Kindness and Heroism (Washington Post)
Brothers, Champions: The Secret Sauce Behind Louisville’s Third Title (Sports Illustrated)
To the people of Boston and West, Texas and to Kevin Ware, Louisville’s reserve guard who suffered a devastating injury, our thoughts and prayers are with you.