Leaders everywhere want to inspire higher performance, greater motivation, and better communication for their teams. Research shows a causal relationship between those aspirations and emotional connection methods.
Past business views recommended taking emotions out of the workplace. However, studies continue to demonstrate the benefits of bringing it in. It is a huge shift in traditional thinking and can pay off in big ways for any organization. And its impact is far-reaching: employees will feel supported, eager to participate, and confident in their actions. Humans are hardwired for connection, to be heard and understood – all part of a successful emotional connection process. A work environment able to foster such connection will be on the road to a stronger culture overall.
One way for you to improve emotional connection is to better understand six primary responses. They are important to know because emotions influence the ability to work successfully with others. Problems and miscommunications are more likely to occur when there is no perceived safe connection. Not only that, but conflicts can escalate. They will repeat over and over, resulting in a negative cycle impacting work performance and relationships. Emotional connection can resolve such issues by repairing relationships and escaping the repeating negative cycles.
The six responses to emotional connection are applicable to any work environment. They can help you:
We’ll cover the six responses to emotional connection over the next few articles. Let’s take a look at the first emotional connection response and share an example.
The first emotional connection response is based on the ability to be emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged. The idea is to tune into individual emotions around you and “listen to the emotional music.” Be emotionally present and consider all emotional variables.
The following is an example of when this emotional connection response works well:
Tom is having a bit of conflict with Anna. She will have to carry more of the workload while he is away for a conference. She is responding in what seems to be an aggressive, verbal way. But then he recognizes her face shows more sadness than anger. Being engaged with his emotions, he is better equipped to turn the conflict in a more positive direction. He understands Anna needs to be heard and understood.
Tom: Anna, you seem upset about something. Are you feeling worried?
Anna: Yeah, actually. I feel like I’m drowning in projects! It’s really hard when you’re not here and I have to do so much more. I know you have to go to the conference, but it makes me so stressed!
Tom: I totally understand. I hear you. It’s hard for you when I’m gone. I know you are under a lot of pressure. Know you can always call me because I am here for you. You’re doing an amazing job. I’m really lucky to have you on this team.
Anna: Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your support. I know we’ll get through this.
In this example, Tom was able to redirect what at first seemed like a confrontation to a more positive discussion that addressed what was actually bothering Anna. She feels relieved, heard, valued, and important.
Research shows this moment of tapping into people’s vulnerability can establish a safe haven and slow the conversation. These “bonding conversations” are more impactful to positive team relationships and can restore connection while repairing the rift.
Tuning into and responding to emotions is a positive way to handle team interactions. It teaches you to connect yourself to underlying currents and genuinely understand where people are coming from, even if their words feel confrontational. Everyone wants to feel heard and be valued. By deploying this first emotional connection response, you can do just that.
Watch for our next article topic on the second emotional connection response, coming soon!
Interested in learning more? Read “Emotional Connection: The EmC Strategy” book for research and training around emotional connection, attachment theory, and constructive dependency.