Connection is even more crucial now in the ‘time of COVID’! This guide is for leaders or parents or any human!

Humans not only die when they feel lonely, isolated, alone or that they don’t belong, but those conditions are the source of almost every mental health problem we experience. It is imperative we stay connected – that we feel connected to others and to a purpose and a cause or that we have some purpose or meaning in our lives. COVID has highlighted this more than anything I have ever experienced.

Emotional intelligence is about knowing yourself, managing yourself and managing relationships, i.e. connection to yourself and others.

Connection is the key to all life let alone business – because it creates feelings. And feelings are at the core of ALL successful businesses – whether it is sales, customer service, leadership, teams or anything else!

Why is connection important?

Research shows us that people who are disconnected from themselves (head and heart disconnected – not knowing yourself or feeling) and others (heart to heart disconnect – perceived as distant, insincere or inauthentic) will die earlier of ALL causes. And I believe – and have proven – will have less successful businesses – or be less effective leaders.

Being connected not only helps you live longer and healthier but it improves business. Customers come back when they feel a special connection with your team; if your business has a strong community connection and profile, you will have people supporting you over your competitors.

In simple words, if people feel you care about them, they will do business with you; If they like you, they will do business with you; if they feel you are like them, they will do business with you!

Your employees will work far more effectively and with initiative, loyalty and enthusiasm when they feel they know the real you – when you are authentic with them. It makes you trustworthy and reliable. Simply…be real and honest about how you are actually feeling. Be realistically optimistic in these tough times – they look to you for support and stability and as you don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict what will happen, admit that and help them focus on what they can control – which is themselves and their thinking and therefore feelings. If they know you care about them as people and about their development, they will follow you to the end of the earth! Or the end of COVID.

Connection is even more important for women, who operate particularly strongly through this value – break a woman’s trust , make her feel disconnected from you and she will never buy your product or do business with you again!

Find ways to reconnect with yourself and others and watch your business transform.

I always work on myself to grow and develop and in the last 12 months, my income doubled because I have been studying with a mentor (David Martin) and I have done some very challenging work on myself – nothing to do with my business. But by becoming truly more authentic – even though I really focused on being authentic before, as I understood myself better, my work transformed. And so did my income!

Social media and its rise is ALL about feelings and connecting! Young people talk to each other via SMS while they are sitting next to each other! We have to adapt to this new way of connecting to which they all relate – even though it’s all about the same thing – how others feel around us – digitally or in person.

Some specific techniques that will help you to connect in all ways include: I have updated this post and added PRE and POST COVID elements. The PRE COVID ideas are still relevant and applicable for when we all get back to working in a workplace! They also apply to online work! AND to families who can’t see each other in person!

Let go, lighten up and don’t take life so seriously;

POST COVID: Now more than ever we need to consciously look for the lighter side of life. DO NOT listen to the news all day or several times a day! Instead, keep your ‘arsenal’ of funny uplifting stories handy and help people focus on what is good in life. Ask everyone at the beginning of each staff meeting – what’s the best thing that has happened to you all day or all week – and ask this every week. Create a segment in your staff meetings on ‘focusing on the good’ and allow a 10 minute discussion so everyone can bring up something good they have observed about another person in the team – sort of like TA DA moments. it is critical we shift our focus to more of what is joyful and less fearful for the mental health of everyone – our teams, families, colleagues, friends.

PRE COVID: Encourage others to have that same spirit so your customers feel it when they come in; they then discover a ‘haven’ that lightens their spirit each time they visit your business – they want to return just because they feel good every time they do. And goodness knows – we need that right now. Even online – and definitely when we can actually go back to work. Drop that baggage you have been carrying around forever – not only is it making you sick (literally) but it’s creating barriers between you and others. When you model for your team that attitude, they will adopt it as well.

PS. This is felt over zoom calls or phone calls or any kind of interaction. And right now – we need people who help us see the lighter side of things.

Have fun at work (or home!) – even if that is from home!

POST COVID: What can you do to make zoom or teams meetings more fun? Someone I know had everyone learn the ‘git up’ dance and take videos of themselves and their families doing it and they spliced together a collage of everyone doing it – it was fabulous, caused a lot of laughter and really connected the team even though they were at home. Think of creative ways that you can learn more about each other by engaging people’s families in the activities. Create a fun segment in each staff meeting – where people bring the funniest meme or FB poster or something they have seen and share it so there are lots of laughs during the meeting. It also means they are looking for funny things all week if they know it will be consistently brought up each meeting.

PRE COVID: Creating an environment where people really enjoy what they do and laugh often and out loud will generate more energy than you thought possible! It stops staff turnover and makes you an employer of choice – when people see they can have fun AND work professionally. Customers do not have a lot of fun every day – their lives are full of stress and strain. For example if you are in the restaurant business and you can make eating with the family a fun relaxing experience they will visit you far more often! It’s a secret weapon against the ‘big boys’. How often have you visited a fast food chain and been greeted with a happy, smiling team – not just one person – who seems to be having a great time; an environment which makes you feel good just to be around? That’s the secret weapon!

Why not do something completely different? When you greet people with ‘hi how you doing’ or ‘how are you’ – you are one of millions! In fact, often you might just say ‘hello’ to people and they answer ‘fine thanks!’ because they are so used to people saying ‘hi how are you?’ that the fact you just said ‘hi’ doesn’t even register! Be different, stand out from everyone else and have everyone in your team greet your customers with ‘Hi, what’s the best thing that happened to you today?’ I know it’s different but it works! Use it at staff meetings to change the mood of the group; it creates an atmosphere of optimism and also makes people feel better because their chemical makeup changes when they recall happy events. Another secret weapon!

Make people’s eyes sparkle!

POST COVID: This isn’t any different from PRE COVID! We can make people’s eyes sparkle in zoom meetings or on the phone. Just NOTICE people – acknowledge them and accept them as they are! Smile genuinely

PRE COVID: When someone is in love, enthusiastic, excited or motivated about something, what do their eyes do? They sparkle! Everyone knows this but rarely do leaders recognize that it is the best customer service tool there is! If you can have managers who make the team’s eyes sparkle, then that sparkle spreads out to the customers. If your team has a specific directive to make the eyes of everyone you meet sparkle, then imagine the positive effects! It’s so easy to make someone feel special – a simple comment on how they look, a sincere smile; a genuine enquiry about their day – these are all ways that can transform your business into a positive spirited, optimistic and energized place. But‚ as the Harvard Business Review points out – YOU have to do it first!

Acknowledge and recognize others – for ANY achievement. This is the same PRE AND POST COVID!!!

Most leaders and parents underestimate the power of recognition. It is the NUMBER ONE thing that people want in life. Everyone wants to feel they are special; that what they do is appreciated; they want people to notice if they put in special effort or do something above and beyond their job description. They want to feel cared for and that their contribution matters. How often do you do this? We need simple and new ways to build recognition into daily life so it becomes a part of the culture you are creating. Acknowledge them for their specific contribution – and BTW do this at home! Tell people you love them – but add specifically what you love about them – and why!

Praise effort not skills talents and abilities – it develops a growth mindset! Do this with your team and with your children…oh and partners and generally anyone!!!

Be Grateful as a way of living – same PRE AND POST COVID!

Gratitude is the antidote to misery, pessimism, depression, lethargy, mental un-health issues and a host of other unwanted behaviors. It is impossible to have a heart full of depression and misery and heart full of gratitude at the same time. Begin every dinner and every staff meeting with this question: what is the thing you are most grateful for today? Focus on gratitude and things for which to be grateful all the time. It’s a conscious choice. Find something for which to be grateful in everything that happens to you or around you. There is always – always – something for which to be grateful, Your mission, should you choose to accept it, if to find it!

Your gratitude for the work your managers and employees do and for the opportunities you have had, will flow through directly and impact your team. When you model and live AND they live with an attitude of gratitude as Keith Harrell used to say, they will work with an attitude of gratitude and the will make your life as a leader or parent a LOT easier!

By Amanda Gore – Zooties!

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