It was a Saturday afternoon and I was in the final stage of the weekly shop.  I selected a checkout manned by a young guy (he looked about 12 but I am sure he was older!).  Bradley (his name badge gave him away) was friendly and we undertook the usual pleasantries, until something happened.

He started saying something and then he stopped himself.  Being a curious person, I asked him to share what he had been going to say.

He said; as he was picking up and passing my groceries through the scanner the colour on one of the packets caught his eye, and took him back to his childhood (later in the conversation he did say it was a long time ago – now that made me feel old).  The colour (a gorgeous metallic crimson) reminded him of a game he played with his little brother. This memory made this young guy smile.

We continued to chat about how colour, smell, sound, taste and an image can take you to a time in the past and revive a memory.

This mental facility is useful in the workplace, using stimuli such as music and images can be a great way to get people to share something and thereby either start or enhance individual connections.

In a world that is changing faster than we are keeping up, connections with others is even more important.   Real connections. Deep connections.

There is much research on the value derived from social connectivity in the workplace.  Connections build trust and result in productivity increases. A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people relationships and amplifies capabilities and creativity.

So here are some simple ideas on how to form genuine connections with your work colleagues:

  • Go out of your way to help others
  • Be vulnerable – fess up when you don’t know what to do next
  • Be genuine
  • Be present when you are speaking with others (not simply thinking about the next thing you are going to say)
  • Ask others for their ideas or perspectives
  • Exercise together and/or share a meal
  • Share stories about a song, an image, a memory that means something to you

In a short time I learnt much about Bradley than I ever imagined.  I walked out of the store with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart, connecting with others not only feels good but is good for business.

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About Maree Gardner

She's vibrant, energetic and passionate - just the kind of person you want on your team. With a distinguished career in senior executive roles across both the public and private sectors, Maree also holds a Masters of Human Resource Management. She takes a strategic, accountable and outcome-focussed approach to working with clients across a variety of industries. Her super-power? Being able to sort fad from fact at less than 20 paces.

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