Every interaction counts. Whether it be the way you collaborate or how you innovate, all interactions add up to the overall experience of effective team building. This is backed by a science of emotional connection in businesses that cannot be ignored.
1. Everyone needs emotional connection, and we sometimes act ineffectively when faced with perceived threats to our emotional safety. We, as human beings, are not wired to face life alone. We have an innate need for attachment and connection, and we often panic when we fear that this need will not be fulfilled. The brain constantly asks three questions: “Do I matter?” “Am I important?” and “Will you be there when I need you?” When we feel like the answer to these questions is “no,” we instinctively react in ways that may be counterintuitive, such as becoming angry, shutting down, or pushing people away, as defense mechanisms. All of these reactions ultimately result in less emotional connection with others. In order to gain the connection we desire, it is important to learn techniques to communicate and address emotional disconnect effectively.
2. The science of emotional connection relates to ALL areas of life, including business. In a board room setting, picture this: you present an idea, but, in looking at the body language of everyone around you, you question whether your team is actually connecting with you. So you begin to defend yourself. However, in doing so, you unintentionally alienate people (ie: “You don’t respond to me”). Even though you are trying to communicate the lack of connection, these statements will most likely spark a defense mechanism in the other person, making it even more difficult to connect. On a larger scale, these negative circles of conversation result in a negative interpersonal dynamic, that, in turn, makes the team less effective as a whole. In order to keep the lines of connection open and encourage bonding conversations, it is important to be self-aware and phrase your words in a way that brings people together in conversation, rather than separate and blame. However, with practice, emotional and interpersonal awareness becomes quite simple.
3. Focusing on developing “ARE” relationships. The ARE relationship focuses on three questions that contribute to the feeling of emotional safety: Are you accessible to me? Will you respond to my needs? Will you engage with me, even in the face of conflict? Board and team dynamics are all about cultivating a level of emotional safety, in which every team member knows that the rest of the team will have their back when need be. By encouraging bonding conversations, you become a stronger person and team member.
4. There are two tipping points when it comes to changing levels of emotional connection within an organization. The first tipping point is the realization that your team or board has lost connection, which is often very clear because the brain is wired to fear rejection and abandonment. In fact, the pain of being rejected or abandoned by someone a person relies on registers in the same part of the brain as physical pain. The second tipping point is when someone realizes that they long for emotional connection, and want to deepen the trust. Regardless of which tipping point your organization is facing, it is important to move forward with intention. Our brain contains neurons that cause us to mirror the actions of those around us, so when team members work proactively to build better team dynamics and deepen connections, those around them will follow suit.
Listen to Dr. Lola Gershfeld’s interview hosted by Rick Franzi, of Critical Mass, as she explains the science.
Ten Ways to Unite Your Board During a Hostile Takeover in NACD Directorship Magazine