I recently attended a talk by the wonderful and generous Jane Dutton about High Quality Connections (‘HQCs’).  A scholar from the University of Michigan, Jane explained that these HQCs are important to individuals, teams and organisations: her research has shown that they increase our capacity to think and create, increase our physiological health, boost our capacity to adapt and be resilient and there is accumulating evidence of a full shopping list of individual payoffs like increased self-image, co-operation and engagement.  This is pretty useful in today’s potentially stressful workplace.

And it doesn’t stop there.  HQCs also help teams learn, adapt and create more effectively, and they enhance co-operation, increase adaptability, and beef up the attachment of employees, clients and suppliers at an organizational level.  Now that is quite a list of rewards!

The kicker is that we are born with the capacity to build HQCs, creating positively deviant interactions that bolster things like learning, growing, creating, engaging and caring.  These connections are like a string of healthy blood vessels that link two people, providing greater capacity to share emotions, bend when we need to and be open to each other.  We are primed to behave this way, but sadly, most of us unlearn these skills as we grow.

The good news is that we can do something about it.  If connecting is in your sweet spot, this may be easy.  For others it may take some courage.

Try this for a start: at an individual level, we can simply decide.  Decide to increase the quality of our connections.  Not just more, but better.  And then practice.  Selecting some specific people to focus on can be a good start while we are building our connecting muscle.  So who is on your list?  Who can you develop a better relationship with?

A bit more food for thought: when we approach others, the story we have in our head about them is really important.  If our relationship hasn’t historically been great with a certain individual, finding something useful to think about them makes a difference.  Dispute any negative self-talk you may have, and you will stand a better chance of aligning your body language, your speech, your intonation and your expression to connect more usefully with them.  Get clear on your positive intent, take a deep breath and get into the conversation.  They will definitely notice the difference, even if they don’t remark on it.

We can then develop additional pathways or mechanisms to increase the quality of our connections, but that is for another blog.

It may take a little courage as you start – depending on the base you are coming from – but the rewards for you and those in your world will more than repay your efforts.  And who knows how far the positive ripples will spread.

As Susan Scott said, ‘The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.’  And this is all down to how you connect.  So have fun with it – and shout if you need any specific assistance.

Author: Nicola Deakin