'I feel left out' - human connection in a hybrid world

“Strengthening human connection through the power of conversation”. 

This has been our mission since we started The Conversation Space and was one of the key findings from our Roffey Park Research “Mastering Conversation ”.  As human beings, we are hardwired for connection, and for many of us, human connection is what we’ve been missing most during the past 18 months.

Those small moments of spontaneous conversation that happen when we are in a room together combined with the richness that comes from best quality eye contact, help to strengthen relationships and foster a sense of belonging.  Especially at work.  And strong relationships impact two things critical to the bottom line:  productivity and innovation.

‘I See You’ is a short film that explores the power of real human connection. As eye contact becomes a rare occurrence in the digital world we wanted to shed light on a culture starved of presence. Vinaya

 

But it’s the informal conversations that are often being squeezed out of our days right now and companies that recognise this and do something about it are the ones that will attract and retain their people moving forward.

With hybrid working becoming more common, many companies are blending both remote work and people coming into the office.  As we continue to plan for this, we need to be mindful, not just about structures, policies, and processes, but how to support and encourage people to connect in a more human way in their conversations.

Meetings are likely to be a blend of people being together in a physical space whilst others join remotely.  To make them work, careful thought and planning will be required to how these kinds of conversations take place so that everyone feels included and able to contribute.  Being intentional about connecting, sharing stories, and having fun will help people to feel more engaged and motivated.

This may seem obvious, but what became clear through our research was that even when human interaction is happening at work, we crave more of it.  At a fundamental level, we want better work relationships with more honesty and clarity – ultimately, we want more connection with each other.

Now is the time to change the way we work and bring more humanity and empathy into our organisations.  Now is the time to change the way we talk to each other.

Here are a few thoughts as a starting point to make your meetings work:

  1. Create opportunities for short conversations. A quick virtual cuppa. A walk and talk. Or if you’re in the office, go from one meeting to another with a colleague. Build in moments of connection across the week.
  2. Think about where as well as what. Our environment makes a huge difference to the quality of our conversation.
  3. Prepare. Take a few moments to think about some topics for conversation. Perhaps it’s something you’ve recently read or watched or heard about that has interested you. Maybe it’s last night’s match, or the latest political scandal. But do consider what will be of interest to the person you’re going to be chatting with. Remember, a conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.
  4. Practice your conversational skills. Listen. Ask open questions. Share what you notice. In that order.
  5. Stay curious. We have all had very different experiences of the last year and will have different perspectives on what those mean. So try and stay open to the differences, it’s all too easy to get defensive and that is a conversation killer for sure.

If you’d like to develop your Conversational Wisdom®, do get in touch to find out more.

By Sara Hope
30.06.2021

Case studies

Performance / Employee Experience

Boots
Conversational Wisdom: Impactful performance conversations

Talent development / Performance / Employee Experience

Burberry
Conversations in fashion

In their words...

"Working together with The Conversations Space is always easy. Experienced and eager to understand the needs and the context of how the training will support the overall goal before delivering. I also appreciate the proactive approach of always wanting to develop the existing sessions and strive for an even better learner experience."