What do you think of when you hear the word “connect?” The first thought is often connecting via social media or some other online platform.

These modes of communicating serve a wonderful purpose. They keep us connected to people we may not have time (or desire) to see in person, are incredibly convenient, and allow us to reach out 24/7. However, they often distract us from important tasks, and limit our ability to make real connections.

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 way that has value to us personally.

The time we spend on our devices could be reallocated to more rewarding face-to-face communication. At work, rather than sitting in front of a computer, more time could be spent interacting with coworkers or internal customers.

Challenging yourself to connect in a true and authentic way pays dividends that will prove meaningful to you personally and the organizations you serve.

The Need to Belong

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 thinking about how to connect, ask yourself these questions:

  1. When was the last time that you had a meaningful conversation with your manager, direct reports or peers?
  2. Are you clear on their expectations and are they clear on yours?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

Making Time to Connect

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.

In my life coach practice, I help people practice showing they care. The acronym CARE stands for Concern, Ask, Relate and Empower:

  • It is important that we have a genuine concern for and interest in people.
  • Ask great open-ended questions and listen without planning what you are going to say next.
  • 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, use it as a teachable moment.

Connecting with a purpose can change 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, or adversely impact our ability to develop meaningful relationships.

In an age of increased loneliness and depression enhanced by social media, we can change the course of families, communities and organizations by tuning in to each other. Who have you deeply connected with over the last week? Who will that person be today? It is important that we take the time to CARE and build lasting and meaningful relationships.

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