Communication Micro-Connects and Appreciation
News flash: We live in a culture that is appreciation deprived. Studies show that up to 70% of workers feel they are not regularly appreciated at work.
But the good news is that studies also show that when you give appreciation to someone on a regular and informal basis, you will see 5x more engagement/productivity. Wow!
A University of Washington study found that:
- Kids at home receive positive vs negative feedback at a ratio of 1:14 (1 positive interaction for every 14 negative interactions). That means that for every time they get encouragement, they get 14 negative responses, such as saying things like stop doing that, don’t hit your brother, eat your vegetables, you can do better. Or doing things like – multi-tasking, not paying attention, and not listening.
- At work the ration of positive to negative feedback is 1:10 (1 positive interaction to every 10 negative interactions). It’s almost as bad. Think about it — how often do you have positive vs. negative interactions in a day? tio
In long-term successful relationships at work and at home, a typical day includes a ratio of 9:1 (9 positive to 1 negative interaction)
Clearly, we need to flip the numbers and start giving more positive and less negative feedback!
We don’t we do better?
It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s mostly because we generally aren’t all that aware of what we aren’t doing. And, for most of us, we don’t realize how great of an impact a focus on positive interaction can really make.
We simply don’t understand how important it is to make a concerted effort to regularly practice the art of giving regular appreciation to those around us.
How we can do better: Communication Micro-Connects
One of the best ways to make simple positive changes in your interactions is to focus on your communication “micro-connects.” Micro-connects are small things you can do every time you interact with someone that is positive. It shows you care and appreciate them.
One of the best ways to improve your micro-connections is to be a better listener
. You can do that by consistently paying full attention, pausing (don’t interrupt), asking clarifying questions to make sure you understand. And most important, stop multi-tasking and maintain good eye contact.
Small Changes Make Big Differences
Here are some other great ways to add micro-connects to your daily interactions:
- Change your body position to get on equal level with who you are talking to. This is important to avoid unintentionally creating a “power position” with the person you are talking with. If they are standing, stand. If they are sitting, sit down with them.
- Smile. I’m not talking about a fake smile, but a genuine smile where the corners of your eyes crinkle. Demonstrate that you are happy to be with them.
- Notice small things and mention them. For example, a new picture in someone’s office, new clothes, something they are carrying. Look for the details and connect with them.
- Remember names and use them. If you don’t think you’re good at remembering names, it’s probably because you are telling yourself that. Start with the person wearing a name tag at the grocery store and go from there!
- Go out of your way to do something nice for someone. Hold a door, grab a coffee together. Small gestures show you care. Make them a regular daily habit.
- Catch people doing something good and tell them right away (and then tell their boss!)
- Write a short note of appreciation or thanks. Snail mail and cards are even more significant in this age on modern technology. Take a minute, even if it’s just to write a few words on a sticky note.
- Create fun: tell a joke, share a funny story – engage in a fun topic. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Stop and enjoy the journey. Don’t be in such a rush that you don’t acknowledge, pay attention and respond in a positive way.
Practice to Improve
I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and make better communication micro-connections with everyone you come in contact with. Exercise your appreciation muscle often through these simple micro-connects and they will soon become habits. I promise that you will immediately see changes in your relationships. You’ll notice right away the differences: better engagement, responses and results.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in improving interpersonal communication skills, building and leading teams, training supervisors, career coaching, and solving human resources issues.