What do you think of when you hear the word connect? The first thought is often connecting via social media or some other Internet related platform. These modes of communicating and relating serve a wonderful purpose. However, they often distract us and limit our ability to make meaningful personal connections with each other. This is true throughout society. You find this challenge in homes, communities and places of employment. The wealth of devices in our lives often allows us to be more productive, but can limit our ability to connect in a meaningful way. The time that we spend on our devices could be reallocated to face-to-face communication with family members or friends. At work, rather than sitting in front of a computer, more time could be allocated towards interacting with coworkers or internal customers. Connecting in a true and authentic way will pay dividends that will prove meaningful to individuals and organizations.

Each of us wants to feel needed and valued, and we want to belong. Nevertheless, in this age of technology and plenty, many of us feel disconnected and alone. When was the last time that you had a meaningful conversation with your manager, direct reports or peers? Are you clear on their expectations and are they clear on yours? Do they know that you have desires, ambitions and needs or have you been too busy or preoccupied to connect and ensure that those feelings are known and clear? Do you give clear instructions on what is expected of others or are they left to guess? Each of us has a significant opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and improve results in organizations by investing a little time, attention and energy.

One way to do this is by slowing down and planning each day. Carve out time to make meaningful connections with others. This is critically important in the workplace where employee engagement is at a low point. The acrostics CARE, which stands for Concern, Ask, Relate and Empower can help us in this area. It is important that we have a genuine concern for and interest in others. Ask great open-ended questions and listen more than talking. Relate involves being available and dialoguing with others. At work, walk the floor or manage by walking around and talking with others, especially direct reports. You might learn of the next great innovation or idea that could change the course of your business. Lastly, empower others by freeing them up to make decisions and take risks. If they fail or make a mistake, teach.

Connecting with a purpose can change the landscape when it comes to individuals and organizations alike. Electronic devices were designed to be an asset. However, they are often a time and attention drain. We should not allow them to be a distraction, and we should not allow them to adversely impact our ability to develop meaningful relationships. In an age of loneliness and depression, we can change the course of families, communities and organizations by tuning in to each other in a meaningful way. Who have you connected with in a deep and meaningful way over the last week? Who will that person be today? It is important that we take the time to CARE about others and build lasting and meaningful relationships.