The decline of social connection and rise of loneliness in the United States has caught the attention of the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, which prompted the publication of a new advisory.
“The harmful consequences of a society that lacks social connection can be felt in our schools, workplaces, and civic organizations, where performance, productivity, and engagement are diminished,” writes U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community released on May 2, 2023. “Given the profound consequences of loneliness and isolation [on individual and societal health], we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the same investments in addressing social connection that we have made in addressing tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.”
Our focus is on the importance of human connection and cultivating a culture of connection in the workplace, but what we’ve learned about connection applies beyond the realm of our work lives. The principles are relevant for individuals, community groups, sports teams, nations and even families. Knowing that a connection deficit negatively affects our own health and well-being, the health of groups and the health of society, we’ve become concerned observing how the pace and stress of life threaten to squeeze out time for supportive, lifegiving relationships and endeavors. Improving connection in the home can lead toward a more fulfilling life and healthier communities, organizations and nations.
If you are seeking to develop a Connection Culture in your workplace, then you need to not only proactively take actions that build connection, but also avoid actions that destroy it. Sometimes, we have blind spots that make it difficult to identify “connection killer” habits.
The image of trees being whipped back and forth during a storm is an appropriate analogy for humans weathering especially stressful seasons in life. It was on my mind as I followed the coverage of Hurricane Ian and the destruction it left in its wake at the same time I was reading new research that came out on rising burnout among physicians. I thought of how those in healthcare have been battered by a fierce hurricane called the Covid-19 pandemic. They faced a powerful and unpredictable foe, one that shifted and adapted as it went along, one that was fatal to some it encountered and left others unscathed. Shaken and tested by what must have felt like an unrelenting storm in the first year, some in healthcare were able to persevere and remain standing strong and some fell. Still others are upright, but for how much longer?
After Steph Curry’s phenomenal performance leading his team to win the 2022 NBA Championship and being named the 2022 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, it’s abundantly clear that basketball is his superpower. But it’s not his only one.
Studies show that America’s youth are facing some difficult challenges. How can we help them? How can we inspire them to rise above the challenges and find solutions?
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the hosts of the Beltway Broadcast, a podcast produced by the Metro DC Chapter of ATD. Our conversation covered a range of topics, including what to look for when evaluating the workplace culture of a potential employer, how to increase the odds of a colleague cooperating with you, how to build connections across departments, and more.
Emotions are contagious. For that reason, you need to pay attention to your own emotions and those of the people around you.
At work, how would you characterize the emotional state of your team? If you were to think of it as a river, is the quality of the water life-giving and invigorating, or some level of toxic? Is the water current robust or more of a trickle?
Do the people around you know that you are for them? Do they know whether you care about them, want them to be able to do their individual best, and will advocate for them? Having this assurance promotes a feeling of connection. It goes a long way in establishing trust and an environment of psychological safety. But if they don’t know with certainty that you are for them, they may feel you are indifferent to them (which is disconnecting) or assume, rightly or wrongly, that you are against them (which is very disconnecting).
If anyone has a pulse on the business book landscape, it’s Wally Bock. The author of the Three Star Leadership blog and a professional writing coach, Wally reads and reviews many books each year. His wisdom and practical advice have made his articles some of our readers’ favorites on the Connection Culture Group blog.
I was honored that Wally chose to include the second edition of my book Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work on his list of the top 5 business books he read in 2021.
Check out Wally’s full review and see his other recommendations.