For many professionals, the post-COVID business environment has become a lonely space. In fact, Adam Poswolsky, an author and expert on human connection in the workplace, refers to this current landscape as “The Great Disconnection.”

An estimated 65 percent of U.S. employees report an increase in social isolation from their colleagues due to remote work policies, Poswolsky reveals. He also cites disconnection as the main culprit in high turnover rates, absenteeism and low productivity.

But now for the brighter news: employees who create and maintain strong relationships with coworkers experience more satisfaction in their roles, which boosts overall performance, Poswolsky continues. So, if you are still reeling from the effects of pandemic isolation in your own job, rest assured, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Whether you’re in a nine-to-five office environment, or you have an unconventional role that often looks different from one day to the next, here’s how to establish meaningful coworker connections. It’s easier than you might assume—and so worth the effort.

Practice Intentional, Active Listening

Active listening is an essential skill to have in any work environment because it communicates to the other person that you want to understand where they’re coming from, rather than just formulating your own response while they talk. This shows both compassion and respect, two qualities that your colleagues will naturally be drawn to.

The simple act of listening to a coworker can help them feel valued which, in turn, builds a sense of trust and camaraderie. This is true in all sorts of professional settings—in the office breakroom, on a Zoom conference, or even in non-traditional work relationships (a teacher-student caregiver-patient dynamic, for instance). As you learn to practice active listening, here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Pay attention: Establish eye contact with the speaker, set aside your own mental distractions to focus on the message they want to communicate and resist the urge to talk until you are sure the other person is finished.
  • Use physical cues: Maintain an open body posture that shows you’re comfortable and receptive to the conversation. Other non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures (smiles or nods, for instance) also reinforce that you are interested in whatever information the speaker wants to share with you.
  • Give feedback: When there’s a natural pause in the discussion, offer a feedback statement such as, “What I hear from you is…” This reassures the speaker that you’re not just listening—you’re also absorbing the content.Visit here : zonepage.netClick here : zeepost.org

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Seek Out Collaboration Opportunities

If you’re on a remote team or in another non-traditional environment, it’s common to feel siloed from your coworkers at times. That’s why collaboration is so important – sharing the load on a project with someone else forces you to maintain open communication, aim for a compromise, and achieve a common goal or find a solution together.

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Could you use help on an assignment? Ask a colleague if they have time to lend their skills and expertise to the project. Does another coworker seem stressed out by an upcoming deadline? Offer to pitch in and remove some of that pressure from their task list. Follow these tips from Asana to nurture collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships:

  • Prioritize clarity: Communicate opinions, ideas, questions, and expectations with each other to build transparency and help to avoid conflicts or misunderstandings.
  • Aim for efficiency: Make the most of the time you have together—work hours are finite, and there’s a lot to accomplish, so agree to use this collaborative time wisely.
  • Maintain positivity: Choose to view any project setbacks or failures as opportunities to learn, grow and pivot as a team. This sustains your morale and perseverance.
  • Reinforce trust: Show your coworkers through both action and communication that you value their opinions and skillsets. This helps everyone feel safe to contribute.
  • Seek accountability: Establish a ground rule that you each have permission to hold one another accountable to perform quality work and finish deliverables on time.

Find Connection Points Outside the Job

If all you presume to have in common with your colleagues are a shared environment and a similar job description, then you won’t have much to chat about once the workday is over. But if you’re curious about their lives outside the professional sphere, you might find some interesting connection points that can result in meaningful bonds.

In order for coworker relationships to transcend the office (or wherever you do business), you have to make an effort to learn who they are as human beings, not just cubicle mates or faces on a Zoom screen. So ask questions—it’s rare to find a person who doesn’t love talking about themselves (within reasonable boundaries, of course).

Which hobbies or activities are they into? What TV shows are they watching? How do they plan to use their vacation time this year? What is their favorite music or podcast to jam out to? Do they want to grab a coffee and connect outside of working hours sometimes? If you want to form a lasting connection, start with the small commonalities, then build from there.

Meaningful Coworker Connections Are in Your Reach

In the midst of so much post-COVID loneliness—not to mention, an increasingly virtual business world—authentic human connections in the workplace feel more urgent than ever. You have no idea what meaningful relationships could form unless you take the first step to reach out and initiate a dialogue. Whatever role you’re in, coworker connections can be a bright spot on the job, resulting in more satisfaction, higher morale, and a boost in productivity.

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