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Checking in to Build Connections

2 April 2019

Janie read The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing by Karyn Twaronite and found herself nodding her head in agreement as she read the article.

Tags: communication, culture, janie read

Last week as I skimmed my weekly Harvard Business Review newsletter, The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing by Karyn Twaronite caught my eye. It’s a catchy title and I was interested to see what Twaronite had to say on this subject.

Twaronite said “humans have an innate need to belong—to one another, to our friends and families, and to our culture and our country. The same is true when we’re at work. When people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.” That all sounds great, but it also sounds like a tall order. What can you do to help make your employees feel like they belong at work? Twaronite has several suggestions, but says it starts with simply checking in with staff members to see how they’re doing.

Twaronite suggested that asking, “How are you doing? How can I support you?” can go a long way. She has several suggestions to help you work on establishing stronger connections and said it starts with simply making an effort to check in.

All her suggestions are great, but there are two that I think are critically important if you really want to establish a meaningful connection and work on building stronger relationships.

  • Assume positive intent.
  • It’s OK to be vulnerable.

Assuming positive intent is one of our core values at Allison Partners. (We call it a “generous interpretation” and it’s so important to us that we have the phrase on our wall!)

We always encourage our clients to go into a conversation with the assumption that the other person meant well. It’s remarkable how much more patience and understanding you can find when you don’t assume the other person is out to get you.

I think vulnerability is equally important. We all face our own challenges in life and being willing to be open about some of these obstacles can help build trust. Twaronite says, “expressing vulnerability by…talking openly about challenges you’re facing humanizes the relationship you have with your peers and direct reports.”

Establishing connections is a great way to make the workplace feel more inclusive and can have tremendous benefits. If this is a topic you’re interested in learning more about, I encourage you to read The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing by Karyn Twaronite; she has several other suggestions of things you can do to increase connection.


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