Connected And Yet, Disconnected

Mar 06, 2015 1 Min Read


I travel regularly for business and on each trip I am surrounded by hundreds of people. On the plane, in the airport, at my destination. I love the anonymity, and yet I hate it.

Travel has the ability to bring us close to others while remaining invisible, alone. All those people, yet no one to talk to. Connected, yet disconnected.

I write about being “connected yet disconnected” in my book Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships.

With the introduction of technology, we have the ability to connect with hundreds, even thousands of people. Whether it’s connections, friends, or even likes and tweets.

Yet despite being so connected, I continue to hear the same story:

“I have (insert your own number) Facebook friends, but I have no one I can turn to in an emergency.”

Social and professional relationships

It’s not just social relationships that matter, but professional ones too.

A recent study by the Association of Accounting Technicians of 2,000 employees reported that within the top 10 reasons for staying with a company, “relationships” appeared three times.

So forget “location, location, location”. Instead, the mantra should be “relationships, relationships, relationships”.

Think about it for a moment (especially if you are involved in any sort of employee engagement project), people don’t look forward to going to work because of the work.

They look forward to going to work because of the people they work with, the relationships they have, and the experience of being connected to someone and something.

Personal and business imperative

Cultivating winning relationships is not just a business imperative, it’s a personal one as well. You can’t deliver your results through your own efforts, at least not in the long term, unless you’re willing to risk being stressed and burning out.

Work is the biggest team sport any of us get to play. It’s all about the connections, the relationships, not just to get stuff done, but to have fun, inspire, create, innovate, and support customers and each other in delivering a powerful experience.

In my experience with successful companies; teams; individuals, those that don’t just survive, but thrive and grow in the longer term, do so because they don’t simply focus on the ‘what’ of their business.

They also spend as much time and effort nurturing the how’s, the organisational culture, interpersonal relationships between individual employees and teams that transform results.

Avoid these, please!

Here are three scenarios that prevent relationships from being formed and/or strengthened:

  • The endless meetings where employees run from one to another.

    This is where we get “straight down to business” and don’t take the time to learn about the people around the table.

    Their experiences, their previous roles and the things that we have in common. Nuggets of information that can bring us closer together, allow us to contribute at our best, to connect.

    Action plan: The next time you are hosting a meeting, take a few moments to allow people to learn about each other, their expertise, how they got to where they are today.

    I guarantee it will build connections that will ensure a more effective team.

  • Eating alone.

    I see this drama play out time and time again. You are leaving the office cafeteria with your tray of lunch.

    You pause and look around the room and don’t see anyone you recognise. You return to your office/desk to eat alone.

    Action plan: Good news! This isn’t junior high, you are allowed to sit with the cool kids – you are one of the cool kids, otherwise you wouldn’t be at your company.

    Next time I challenge you to pick a table and join them. Start a conversation. Build a connection.

  • Passing like ‘ships in the night’.
    I’m sure you’ve had it happen, you are walking and talking with a colleague. You pass someone in the corridor and say “hi”.

    Your colleague asks “who was that?” and you hear yourself say “I don’t know, we’ve walked past each other for months, we just say ‘hi’”.

    Action plan: The next time you walk past a colleague at work and say “hello”, don’t just walk on by.

    You are not in the city anymore, you are both in the same company. So take a moment to stop and find out how their day is going, or how you can help in their success.

Parting wisdom

Connect, don’t disconnect, it could make all the difference, for you and the people you work with.

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Morag is the best-selling author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships and CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR consulting and leadership development company. Her experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing leaders and teams across Europe, America and Asia.

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