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Relationships are all about finding connections, building trust and showing appreciation to other people. There is no better way to do this than to focus on another person’s character strengths and express yours. There is a good reason to make this a priority. Research (77) indicates that one of the most powerful pathways to happiness is creating and maintaining positive relationships.

The values held by you, your people and your organisation have to be the focus for all decisions in normal or tough times. It should govern behaviours.

Your team must find a way to identify where they currently are, and where they want to go. If you want a team to perform at their best, them deciding the route is key to getting value for them and the company as a whole. They will in turn move as one when trauma hits, nor will they allow unkindness into their team. They will adapt to the needs of the business, customers and environment for the greater good. Connections will happen.

Every human has a value and a contribution in some form. This will only shine through following consistent and tiny actions. For example, when people are kind, and a person feels supported, and called upon for the contributions they can offer. When a person feels spoken to honestly and with kindness, they feel valued, part of something and not excluded. I could go on. All of these tiny actions must be carried out every day with colleagues and employees to build the connections that make for a great working environment.

Emotional connections inside and outside of the company appear to be the top employee requirement and in turn make a successful business. If you set things up right and encourage the right organisational morals, (see Chapter 4.2) connection will happen. Setting the foundations, the rules for how we behave is key to making those connections positive.

Allowing people to connect with others is also key to kindness and happiness in life. However, this must be done with love, not for personal gain. When it’s not genuine, the connections will be worse than having nothing at all. The way we work and live affects the way we connect to those around us. The environment is crucial and showing others that it matters helps connection.

Environment is hugely important, even down to the locations of desks in relation to each other, and the way we group departments and place people to in relation to each other. Think flow of information. I cannot tell you the amount of people that I have spoken to that leave businesses because senior managers would not understand the need to move departments onto the same floor or area. People are frustrated when they don’t have an opportunity to easily connect with the people they need to progress a project effectively. Communication is obviously key to ensuring you are connecting through those ‘belonging cues’. You cannot do this if the location of people is not aligned. People also need space, times and areas in which to connect. Whether your organisation is one whose staff are remote or office workers, it is your role to make these places/opportunities available.

Eye and physical contact is the age-old indicator of belonging, and we need to remember that, while the world has moved on, our brains are still wired with elements of our basic instincts. We are far more likely to interact with people who are physically closer even using technology. The closer you are, the more efficient your team will be.

Are you making your people feel safe? Seriously, it’s a hugely important question to be asking yourself. We do this for children, we understand that they need this to fully learn things in life. Children who feel unsafe will not learn or react in predictable ways, they will act out. Adults are the same, if we do not make the people in our team or life feel safe they will not learn and their behaviours will be turbulent. We all want to feel safe to have true connections.

Ask yourself, 'What can I do differently to build connections?'

Share daily vulnerability. Be real about who you are, and be ok with making mistakes. It takes time to build connections and a successful culture.

So, ask your team and the people around you for feedback on the following questions. Don’t do it once, do it often and gain feedback that you then convert to practical solutions.

What should I continue doing?

What should I do more often?

What can I do to make you more effective?

The rules for connection are simple, be real and be you. These are quick and easy rules for people to follow that will bring clarity, communication and connection at times when they are most needed.

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