The best performing teams are diverse and inclusive, with the emphasis on ‘and’. Diversity alone is damaging for individuals and organizations, which is why corporate diversity policies are not enough. An inclusive culture begins with individual employees connecting with one another to eliminate feelings of isolation. Here’s how to get connected.
1. Find common ground.
Connecting with colleagues is as much about personal things as the work they do. Asking about, and keeping up with, their interests will show that you value them as a person. Small touches like remembering their child’s name or recommending a restaurant go a long way.
2. Offer your full attention.
The presence of a phone impacts our feelings of connectedness, even if we don’t check it. Put your phone away, push concerns to the back of your mind and focus fully on what the other person is saying. Nod, murmur agreement and summarize their point to show how actively you’re listening.
3. Strike a match.
When we get along, we naturally mirror each other. Give natural synergy a nudge by consciously matching others. Try speaking at the same volume or pace, and reflect movement. Be subtle though. You’ll know it’s working when you laugh and they laugh too.
4. Open up.
Struggling with your budget? Ashamed of your Excel ineptitude? Admitting weaknesses deepens intimacy and may help unearth common ground.
5. Recognize your bias.
It’s in our DNA to be attracted to those who are similar to us. Recognize when your behavior might unintentionally exclude others – whether it’s ignoring someone’s input or organizing social events that assume certain interests – and reach out so that everyone feels involved.