Within any organisation, the need to feel like part of a team and to develop a sense of belonging is a vital to ensuring a comfortable working environment, and to a certain extent, increasing productivity.
1. Establishing trust
Trust is critical for the success of our relationships with colleagues. If we don’t trust one of our team members, we will often waste time monitoring that person, duplicating their work and communicating less effectively.
We know that trust can form much more quickly with people we are similar to and this is one of the reasons why we can feel 'wary' of people who may bring different approaches or perspectives to an established team.
To achieve affective trust, we have to spend time getting to know all our colleagues, understanding their background, interests and skills, as well as demonstrating respect, warmth and attentiveness.
2. Developing a rapport
The first step to building rapport is finding common ground. This isn’t about being someone you’re not, though. It’s about expressing a real interest when engaging with someone new, in order to find something genuine that you both have in common.
The second step is to be mindful of our body language. We might not be aware of it, but our body language can provide a wealth of information about how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and how comfortable we are.
Simple considerations - our posture, maintaining eye contact, avoiding 'distraction habits' such as checking our phones - all contribute to the impact we have on others.
Finally, as the language we use only accounts for a small proportion of our communication, it’s important to match the verbal style of the person we’re conversing with, as it can contribute towards influencing the development of overall rapport.
3. Managing our impact
Whenever we meet someone new, we will leave them with an impression of us that is based on our behaviour. Specifically, the first three minutes that we spend with a new person are when their initial impressions of us are formed, and they can be difficult to overcome.
To create a positive impact, it’s critical that we are flexible and able to listen to the individual vigilantly, as well as paying particular attention to the situation and trying to see it from different perspectives.
By building and maintaining trust, developing a rapport and managing the impact that we have on those around us, we can increase our overall approachability, work towards fostering a sense of belonging and improve the employee experience.
Utilising these three concepts will allow us to lay the foundations of strong working relationships, and as a result, feel the crucial sense of belonging within our workplaces.