Continuing the exploration of Jane Dutton’s 4 Pathways to High Quality Connections, this note takes a look at Respectful Engagement.  This pathway is all about communicating worth and value in an organization; sending a message through personal connection that shows compassion and empathy.  Some strategies to use are: being present and reserving judgment, effective listening, communicating affirmation and actively showing support.

To illustrate empathy through human stories, The Cleveland Clinic put together an impactful video:



Take a look.  It is a good reminder that everyone has things going on in their life, and we are very good at wearing our masks so that others don’t know what’s happening in our world.  All we see is the surface, unless we take the time to find out what is beneath.

If we are to build high quality connections we need to create the climate for others to feel safe to talk about what is really important to them.  If and when they want to.

Mindfulness and ‘being present’ are the base conditions for communicating respectful engagement.  The potential problem is that there can be confusion over ‘being present’.  The question comes up: “What, exactly, should I do?”

Well, it is really about just showing up.  Sitting with someone and listening to their story.  Leaving all devices to one side.  Not answering the phone.  Just being there and being open to whatever comes up.  Respectfully.  Without judgement.

Pain often features in people’s lives.  If you are there for your people when they are in pain it will dramatically impact the quality of your relationship with them.  Sharing stories of compassion also gives people hope, and shows them ways that they can take action in their own lives.

In this way, compassion and empathy can become cultural norms, supporting better team functioning and increased personal creativity, achievement and well-being.  As well as just being the right thing to do.

Author: Nicola Deakin