Human beings are designed to connect with each other. However, sometimes this can be a challenge to do in the workplace, especially in the public-sector. While some government work environments foster innovation through conversation and connectedness, many others are more transactional and less collaborative.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to remedy this problem. Judith Glaser, an organizational anthropologist gave some practical tips to leveraging good conversation to foster a more collaborative work environment at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit.
Changing your workplace culture starts with transforming yourself. “The brain has powers that we didn’t know it had, it can change itself, heal itself and connect us to others in ways that activate our mutual healing powers,” Glaser explained.
Once you understand your own power to connect you can start using it to connect with others. “Changing culture and building trust starts with conversations, then you can build relationships, ultimately allowing you to change culture,” Glaser said. “Everything happens through the connections that happen in conversations.”
Intentional conversations elevate the level of trust that you create with others, which will eventually improve the quality of interactions and your workplace culture. In order to build trust, Glaser recommended transparency, focusing on relationships before task, creating a mutual vision, recognizing when things are not going well.
In order to start having intentional conversations and work on interacting without judgement, Glaser gave four tips:
- Listen to connect. Instead of immediately judging or rejecting when you interact with coworkers, aim to listen and build common ground. When you do this, you change the chemistry of your body, making it easier to sustain this kind of conversation overtime.
- Ask questions. Be mindful to ask questions that you don’t have answers to instead of ones that confirm what you already know. This allows you to build trust by putting relationships before tasks.
- Reword your culture. If your team invents a new word or concept, graft that into your culture. Doing so will cause a positive shift as words create worlds and those worlds will create a team spirit.
- Give people space. Make sure your coworkers have enough time to digest and respond before they interact with you. Glaser suggested using the three second rule where you take a breath, change your chemistry and wait three seconds before interacting in order to have more constructive conversations.
Once you start employing these tips and being intentional in your conversations with coworkers, you can start working towards the culture you want to see at your office.
This blog post is a recap of a session that took place at the recent Next Generation of Government Summit. Want to see more great insights that came out of NextGen? Head here.