Wednesday, 6 March 2013

How to establish high quality connections

Imagine the following situation: You enter your boss’ office after having spent weeks to prepare an important report for him. However, your boss does not seem to listen to you. He keeps on looking at his computer screen, answers a incoming phone calls and keeps on interrupting you. The questions he asks after your talk clearly signal: he has not listened at all. What a frustrating experience!

According to recent polls, such a situation does not seem to be too rare. Instead, incivility and disrespect at the work place are increasingly common. According to researcher Jane Dutton from the University of Michigan, disrespectful engagement depletes energy and thus motivation and commitment and may lead to burnout. In the journal Stanford Social Innovation Review, she illustrates some cases of disrespectful behaviour and their effects, and then outlines how such behaviours can be changed by establishing what she calls “high quality connections”.

In a video, she explains what high quality connections are, why they are worth striving for and what the pathways of building high quality connections are.

These pathways are:
  • Respectful engagement: being there and turning towards the person, e.g. turning computer and phone off and really listening.
  • Task enabling: help another person being successful; in order to do so, find out what other person’s goals are.
  • Building trust: making the first step that signals that you are open, give a cue that you are trustworthy, e.g. by disclosing something about yourself.
  • Playing: inviting the other person for a kind of game.

Either of them can help establish high quality connections, and you can pick the one that works best in the situation you are in.

It does not seem to take much. Simply make the effort to draw your attention completely to the person you are talking to. The effect seems to be huge. The other person will feel appreciated – a great motivator at work, but also in all other life domains!


  1. It doesn't have to be all that hard, to charge the direction of a relationship and even a culture.

    Thanks for the summary!

    “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

    1. Thanks for drawing our attention to this topic! And I share your opinion: it does not have to be all that hard to make a change in the way we interact with others. We can really start by drawing our full attention to the person we interact with!