How do you create Human Moments?
“Successful Entrepreneurs Possess This One Crucial Skill” – Forbes
“4 Simple Phrases That Instantly Earn People’s Trust” – Inc
“Why Appreciation Matters So Much” – Harvard Business Review
Three unusual titles highlighting key skills/behaviours for improving the performances of leaders and entrepreneurs. These publications have chosen to focus on behaviours such as listening, connecting, and building relationships, (how we are ‘being’), in addition to what they would typically carry, articles on finance, strategy, and management, (what we are ‘doing’).
This post is about cultivating more Human Moments in the workplace and considers three traits of the entrepreneur’s role that may not have been previously considered.
The wonderful thing about Human Moments, (and we are all human), is that they always benefit both the giver and the receiver. For example, noticing someone behaving unusually and having a quiet word, acknowledging that someone has gone out of their way to make a difference for a client, asking a question and then actively listening with genuine curiosity and interest to their answer.
How many times do we not acknowledge? How many times do we not notice? How many times are we too preoccupied to fully listen?
Here are three simple shifts you can make today, any of which would have a positive impact on your people and their performance, and it would also benefit relationships with your loved ones too.
I was reminded of this recently whilst meeting a contact at his club. The lady on reception said that my contact was in the restaurant, and as I had never met him before she was very happy to take me to him. On greeting me, he smiled at her and thanked her by name, (no wonder she was happy to make the introduction). Observing him, it seemed that he knew all of the staff by name as well.
On questioning him about this he said that for him it begins by being curious, wondering about the person in front of him, what journeys might this person have been on, what gifts might be hidden behind their façade. Whilst curiosity is his primary state, he also gives them his full attention when he meets them, yet never expects anything in return. His life is certainly richer through connecting with these people, but equally important, their lives are richer too through knowing him. They feel heard and understood, feel valued, and always leave feeling that they matter.
Do you know everyone in your business by name? How easy would it be to have a conversation with them? What stories might you find out about your colleagues? How deeper would your relationship be, if you too were curious?
A consultant friend of mine, working with a large PLC Board, recognised the need to resolve some of their existing trust issues. He created a pack of cards, each card showing one of the Board members. He then asked each Board member to simply put the cards into two piles, not overthink it, just a instinctual, gut feeling – trust or not trust. When he analysed the results he found that those seen as the least trustworthy, were also the ones who were least trusting.
Having an attitude that most people are trustworthy, whilst being aware of our own natural discernment, is a great starting point. Intend to be conscious of any ‘red flags’ that may arise, and adjust accordingly.
Individuals may start off in a meeting by having a high level of trust, even if they don’t know the other participants. That is the way they are, how they have grown and developed. In general though, most will be reserved, showing their best face, but all the time checking, wondering and adapting.
As the conversation unfolds, the amygdala (responsible for the fight, freeze, flight response) begins to settle down and in doing so normality returns, we are more aware, we think better, our breathing slows and our heart reduces to our normal rate. Successful relationships, personal or in business are built on trust.
Feeling they are trusted helps individuals to relax, to think for themselves, and to give of their best.
Dr John Gottman founder of The Gottman Institute, is world renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction. His research determined that a ratio of 5 to 1 in favour of appreciation over criticism is needed for a successful relationship, whether that is a personal one or in business. For every one criticism, which could be words, an action, or even a look, requires at least five appreciative moments to counter it.
Equally important, researcher Marcial Losada found that among high-performing teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs that of negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1. By contrast, low-performing teams have a ratio of 0.36 to 1
Appreciation is fundamentally about relationships and human connection. Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter, that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we are recognised for it. Appreciation conveys that I see you, you matter to me, I get you. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work.
However, heartfelt appreciation is a muscle we’ve not spent much time building, or felt encouraged to build. Yet we are all more vulnerable and needy than we like to imagine. Authentically appreciating others will make you feel better about yourself, and it will also increase the likelihood the recipient will invest more in their work, and in you.
The human instinct for reciprocity runs deep.