by Judith E. Glaser
Most people choose their friends and colleagues based on three principles that even they may not be aware of. That’s according to social science research conducted by Brian Uzzi, professor of leadership and organizational change at the Kellogg School of Management:
- Identify the most important qualities they’re looking for in the people in their network (often the same qualities they already have).
- Look for others who share those qualities.
- Find those new people through people they already know.
While this intuitively makes sense for how we grow our business networks, it’s counter intuitive to what human beings need to be doing to ensure deep connectivity in relationships. There is a lot we can learn from the Neuroscience of WE that gives us clues to what makes working relationships as well as personal relationships thrive.
Deep Connection at Work: There is a part of the brain that activates when we meet people. It’s called the ‘like me/not like me’ part of the brain or the Rostromedial Prefrontal Cortex. When we think people are like us the RPC lights up and we connect easily. It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing more of ourselves – and we are comfortable. However, there is another part of our brain that has a bigger impact on us – and one that explains deep connection. This part of the brain is called the Temporo Parietal Junction or the TPJ. This part of our brain is activated when we share with others – and sharing trumps everything.
When we are in active sharing with others – sharing deep secrets, sharing what’s on our mind, sharing our fears, our dreams and our aspirations, the brain lights up like a Christmas tree. This is why people get addicted to ‘tweeting and texting’ – we are sharing transparently and without judging or filtering. This behavior activates a high level of oxytocin, which is the neurotransmitter that enables us to bond and connect with others deeply.
So here are some things to experiment with at work to deepen connections and create a healthy, thriving, intimate and passionate workplace:
- Share passions, dreams and aspirations: Create opportunities to be open and transparent with others about your passions – and share, share, share! When we are open with others – we send signals that we trust them with things that are personal to us. We bring people into our private space and trust they will not harm us in any way. When we share our passions, dreams and aspirations – we are letting others know we think of them as close friends, and we are comfortable confiding in them. Sharing activates oxytocin – our bonding hormone, which activates higher levels of trust – and creates a positive virtuous cycle.
- Connect Deeply through Peer Coaching: Put people together who may not be alike – and enable them to practice sharing, discovering and peer coaching – and their lives will change! Our research at the CreatingWE Institute reveals that Peer Coaching is one of the most powerful forms of engagement between human beings. When we are Peer Coaching we send two strong signals that enable us to trust others and open up with them. One is candor and the other is caring. Together these two signals – when in combination – communicate the highest level of trust known to man. We feel comfortable, safe, and trusting of the person and their intentions – a powerful combination for enhancing our relationships at work and at home.
- Connect Deeply Means Talking about Challenges With Others: There is nothing more exiting than bonding through challenges! Find peers who have not worked together before, and put them into peer groups to discuss their Team Challenges. They will become friends for life! Our research at the CreatingWE Institute reveals that when we experience working through challenges with others – we elevate these people in our lives as trusted advisers. We listen to them differently. We hold them in our minds and hearts as people we can talk with about everything. Plus, we listen to them differently – we consider their ideas and take their feedback with a higher level of openness than usual. Sharing, trusting and working through challenges with other colleagues without fear of ‘loss’ – enables us to get to the next level of greatness. We become open to feedback vital to our future success.
Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of 4 best-selling business books, including her newest, Conversational Intelligence. Follow her @CreatingWe or connect with her on Facebook.