On this very special day of love, according to a survey by American Express, over 6 million couples will likely get engaged. I imagine there will be lots of bended knees, shaky hands with ring boxes, and more than a few tears of joy. Scott proposed to me at a very romantic Italian restaurant where he had worked as a busboy during high school. He didn’t get down on one knee (the tables were a bit too close together to provide room for that position), but over candlelight and soft music, he took my hands, looked me in the eyes, and quietly asked me to marry him. I of course said yes, and the chef and owner (watching from the other side of the room) immediately brought over champagne and showered us with well wishes! Being engaged moved our relationship to a long-term connection. But did you know that “being engaged” can also move communicating to connecting to others? I “propose” to you that on this Valentine’s Day you also become engaged. Now don’t worry … I don’t mean engaged to be married. I mean to become engaged in your daily communication experiences. As I have shared before, research shows that striving for stronger connections with co-workers makes for a happier and more productive work environment. And it’s easy to become more “engaged.” First, when communicating, make sure that you are facing the person(s). Make eye contact and focus your complete attention as you speak AND listen. Second, avoid all distractions, externally and internally. If your phone vibrates or chimes, wait. You heard me … wait … at least until there is a break in the conversation and you can say, “Excuse me for just a second. I need to check this phone call.” And work to focus your thoughts on the conversation and not on other aspects of your day or on how you might respond to the speaker. Finally, value the conversation and respect the other person’s time and attention. Find something important to take away from the experience. Perhaps the conversation provided important information about a work-related topic. Perhaps the conversation provided a chance to get to know your co-worker. etc Strategies believes that being engaged in a communication experience can help create stronger connections to others. And this communication strategy can be the Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving and giving.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Julie and Karen