Clients are constantly asking us, “How can I get my employees to work better together?” That’s a big question and the answer can come from just that, by training them in the art of asking big questions that fuel connection along with training in the art of how to listen. However, for a lot of people, relationship building isn’t natural or easy to do. Most have a hard time admitting this is a concern because it is such a basic, common-sense concept. They assume they already know how to do it. Don’t fall into that trap. Everyone – even the most outgoing, engaging personalities – can improve their skills in this critical area.
The 2 tips listed below are for anyone who wants to build positive workplace relationships, but before you get to that, does this humorous graphic seem familiar?
Tip #1 – Ask Better Questions
In his book, The Book of Beautiful Questions, bestselling author Warren Berger offers up a detailed list of great questions that we can use to build a better connection with those we work with or with our personal circle of acquaintances. His message is, to open dialogue and to really get to know someone, we need to go beyond the usual “How are you?” question which as we all know, usually is met with “Fine and you?” Questions such as, “What was the best part of your weekend?” or “How amazing were you in your presentation today?” may sound contrived but a good open-ended question can open up dialogue and fuel connection. Here are some examples from the author:
Questions to ask instead of “how are you?”
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today? This can be adapted to ask about this week, or the weekend
- What are you most looking forward to at this gathering? This one is good for conferences and social events!
Questions to ask instead of “what do you do?”
- What did you want to be when you were growing up? This question invites a story about growing up and the road that led to the present
- What are you passionate about? This question is a great way to shift from a job (which may be boring) to interests
So now you’ve asked them a great open question and a lot of information comes out…..now what? This leads us to tip #2
Tip #2 – Listen as If Your Life Depends On It
Another critical skill to offer to employees is the fine art of active listening. We know that those of you reading this have likely already had some kind of training in this important skill but how can we also ensure our employees are practicing this to better enhance their relationships?
The answer lies in building a culture that endorses active listening. If leaders model the behaviour, active listening can become part of the organization’s DNA. There are easy ways to train employees in this fine art and to get you started, here is a basic list of skills required to listen as if your life depends on it…
- Pay attention. Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message.
- Show that you’re listening. Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.
- Provide feedback.
- Defer judgment.
- Respond appropriately. The art of connecting better with others is turning the narrative away from ourselves and focusing only on the other question. Try on asking big open-ended questions and then listen, listen, listen. You’ll be amazed how these two simple tips can improve your important relationships at home and at work.
If working remotely in 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that even the best communicators need a little refresher every now and again. TNZ offers a wide range of education and training workshops that can help build a better organization from the inside.