July 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Study after study shows that greater engagement leads to greater retention, better satisfaction, better health and higher profits.
If engagement is so good, what are you doing personally, every day, to increase engagement at work or in your business?
Engagement can be not only part of an overall organizational engagement strategy, but it also can be part of your personal engagement strategy. Your engaging personally, connecting with people one-on-one, creating moments of connection, builds up an emotional bank account, which can grow your business or your career. It also can create a cushion of loyalty when times get tough.
Isn’t that worth 2 minutes a day?
Here are some simple, 2-minute actions you can take every day to build up that emotional bank account with others:
1. Chit Chat. Really. You can start talking about the weather, even. Start with something you both have in common.
Things in common = similarity –>increased connection.
Try this simple, yet effective small talk technique:
a. Observe. Make a comment on something that you and the other person can both observe or that you have in common (event, situation, something you see). It doesn’t need to be witty.
b. Transition. (optional) Make a transition comment that relates #a (your observation) to #c (the question) by revealing a tidbit of information about yourself. You can often skip the transition, but by revealing a tidbit of information about yourself, you foster a sense of connection.
c. Ask. Ask a question.
d. Comment. Follow up with a comment relevant to their response.
e. Ask another question and continue a little back and forth chit chat.
For example, let’s say you are walking by someone’s desk and you notice a family picture.
Observe: What a good-looking family!
Transition: That reminds me of when my kids were little.
Ask: How old are your kids? (response: 1, 3 and 7)
Comment: I bet they keep you busy!
Ask another question: Are you doing anything fun with them this summer?
To extend the moment of connection, take note of some details of the conversation to bring up at a later time. I know I feel more connected with people who remember some details about me or what we talked about. For my business clients, I record details of conversations on a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool and add scheduled tasks to remind me to touch base.
For example, I was working with a client on a presentation and I knew that the presentation was going to be in a week, on Friday. I put a task in my CRM tool to send her an email on Thursday wishing her well on her presentation. She told me twice, once in email and once in person how much she appreciated my brief words of encouragement.
2. Invite them to something you are already going to.
- Meals. You have to eat. Why not use that time to build relationships?
- Events/Activities. Do you share an interest? Why not invite them to join you?
- Volunteer effort for a charitable cause that both you and they care about.
- Meetings, if appropriate.
3. Show sincere appreciation.
Don’t just say thank you. Make your thanks be sincere, timely and show significance.
Sincere = from the heart, not just a perfunctory “thank you.”
Timely = as soon as reasonably possible
Show significance = to illuminate the significant impact their action had
When possible, make your appreciation public. Public appreciation, at a meeting for example, not only lets you express your gratitude, but you also elevate the person in the eyes of others.
4. Use multiple modes of communication.
In-person is great, but not always practical. What other ways does the person communicate? Phone. Text. Email. Skype. Google Hangouts. Chat. Direct messages on Twitter. Facebook or LinkedIn messages. A quick video. Or, go old-school and send something snail mail. Just make sure that you aren’t forcing the other person to communicate in ways they don’t want to.
You never know where attempting moments of connection will lead you! A few years ago, I did an assignment for a class which required doing an exercise on someone’s website. I was so impressed with the exercise that I blogged about it and then sent a link to that blog post to the creator of the exercise. She was pleased that I saw value in the exercise and that I promoted its use. From there, we connected on social media sites, email, phone and Skype. We eventually co-authored a book together. Several months after the book was published, we met in person for the first time.
What can you communicate to increase connection?
- Provide information or resources you think they would appreciate (but don’t sell)
- Offer congratulations
- Offer appreciation (see #3)
- Provide an introduction to someone they would like to meet
- Respond timely to their communications with you
That last one, responding timely, is a deal-breaker for me. When someone doesn’t respond to my emails, it makes me feel like I’m not very important to them. Of course, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, realizing that my email might have gotten trapped in their spam filter or that their response time is just slower (personally, I try to get back to people within 24 hours in most cases). Even if your complete response will take a while, at least get back with people to let them know you received the email and will get back with them by a certain date.
Do you have quick ways to create moments of connection with employees, co-workers, or clients?
This post is 3rd in the series 7 Principles of Making Relationships Work at Work.
This content is also featured in, The Respect Virus: How to Create a Contagious Culture of Respect