Recently one of Sam’s colleagues asked her an important question, “do you and your business partners ever hang-out outside of working and meetings?”
Her reply, “Yes, it’s essential.”
And she’s right.
As business owners together our lives are really intertwined with one another. Joy, Sam and I are fortunate because we really like each other. Well, dare I say love? Yes. Indeed. We respect each other and we chose to be in business together because our individual missions and passions do align.
You may or may not be working with others the same way I mention above, yet somewhere along the line you either chose the people, the job, the salary or all of the above because of a personal mission you’re on.
In today’s go-go productive work culture we may spend more time with work colleagues than with family (at least awake time, that is). And work-life balance has been a hot topic for years. Many of us are committed to our professionalism and success – this is great! This entry is a friendly reminder that part of success is acknowledging that having some fun and creating deep connections with others is part of the picture – it’s a healthy part of productivity, creativity and meeting our goals…and actually our wellbeing depends on it.
Meeting the deadlines at work is tough enough without layering in all the baggage people are silently waking around with. All that baggage – no matter the etiology – shows up in work and home life like excruciating back pain, stress and moodiness, pissy emails to colleagues, digestive upset, anxiety and more. Down the line people are contending with serious illnesses, which then leads to further disruption of work productivity and the simple joy of having a lovely and fulfilling day.
This is what was all wrapped up with what Sam said when she proclaimed the essential nature of our social relationship with one another.
We create time to make sure that we are there to support one another with the baggage, help each other through it with friendship as well as coaching and come out ready to meet life on the other side. When we do this we are supporting our mission for wellness and community as an inseparable pair. We are more productive for it and more importantly, healthier.
It’s funny that the original question came about so recently because subject matter is perfectly aligned with where we are in nature’s season cycle. We are in spring and just about to tip into summer. These two seasons have a special resonance with “getting shit done” and celebrating life. In-between these two is an incredible opportunity for enhancing creativity and improving relationships with others and there is a fine balance to them. Here are a few tips on how to create this balance:
1) Take it outside: As your calendar continues to fill up with meetings and check-ins with work colleagues check outside the window and see if taking a walk can occur in tandem with that discussion about the new account or deliverable. The sunshine, breeze and the plants outside will enliven the conversation, lighten the stress load and give you some space to come up with new ideas.
Circulating your blood by moving a bit helps too; it will refresh you from the fatigue of sitting in front of a screen under fluorescent lighting, help you stave off sore tight muscles and as the blood comes out from your core to your limbs will give all of your cells a reboot so that you can speed right through your to-do list. Get it done, and get home earlier!
Even if you decide to take your meeting to a bench in the shade, sans movement, you still have the benefits the Mother nature provides, take full advantage!
2) Take time for mealtime: Our regular TSW meetings are on Monday evenings right at dinnertime. In winter we typically sit around a table together with our laptops going over the agenda, and that’s just fine. Lately though we’ve been feeling the itch to get out, so we’ve taken our agenda to dinner. The time at the table before our meals arrive is the perfect built-in opportunity for casual checking-in, and it’s here where we catch up on the woes and wonders of daily life. As the meal slows and we take last bites our agenda naturally arises and we check off the items one by one. We’re connected, we’re on the same page and the decisions we need to make arrive in a natural and fluid sequence no doubt because we’ve taken time to nourish ourselves with amazing food and deep connectivity. It’s amazing what two or more people can accomplish together when we first connect at that basic human level. The place where we realize and honor that “I have stuff happening and so do you – Ohh.” I like to call it compassion.
Build this in; it will completely enhance your experience of working with other people and the productivity will follow suit!
3) Wait and listen: We humans have a terrible habit (at least I think we do) of absentmindedly both asking and replying to the question “how are you?” without really answering or listening. Here’s what I mean: I say, as I quick paced walk by you, “How are ya?” and you reply, “Fine, good.” And I have no idea what it means…I speed by, you answer in robot-mode and neither of us took the time to really have that moment.
I make a habit of asking and waiting for the response (it won’t take but an extra minute) and I am relentless in retrieving a true answer. See, I have no idea what “fine” means and if I take a moment to listen to the tone of voice, body language and energy of the response I’ll learn a lot about you and what’s happening in your world. I ask follow-ups, like, “Oh, what’s so fine?!” and if I don’t believe that everything is indeed, “fine, good,” I ask in again, “Yea? How are you really?”
This engenders the possibility of a deeper conversation and alludes to what I was mentioning in #2: connectivity breeds compassion breeds productivity. And this is important when we work together.
If you can make time to really get where people are – the good the bad and the ugly – you might be able to lend a hand appropriately or adjust your expectations of how the person is showing up and what they are accomplishing across the hall. Work will flow easier and you’ll spend less time caught up in the stories and upset about why your cube neighbor is such a downer. Maybe you will bond in commiserating together, or even better yet, they’ll tell you something amazing about how life is good and you feel like the sunshine has come in to light you up as well.
4) Work in “people time”: I’ve always admired my father for this one – as a school administrator he described the flow of his day like this: “When the kids and teachers are in the building, it’s people time. When everyone goes home, it’s paper time.”
Many jokingly and lovingly refer to my dad as “the mayor of [his city]” and I think it’s attributed to his commitment to connecting with people. In addition to the heaping piles of paperwork and many meetings, he’d take a few hours each day to walk around the school during classes and breaks and talk to students, teachers/staff, and parent visitors listening deeply to what was happening in their universe (See #3). He showed up at lunchtime, at the games, plays and performances even if he was not the on-duty person. He created relationships with people and as a result this built trust in the school community, brought forth creativity and new ideas, created an environment that allowed for continuous improvement, and created a safe zone for folks who needed help and support. He helped build communities of people who were all committed to learning and furthering the future of young people. He still does this now even in retirement.
So within reason, we need to create time for the humans along side of us by putting the paper aside, turning off the computer screen and talking to people. Just think of what you could accomplish if your work environment was appropriately social, trusting and committed to greatness?!
The possibilities are endless.