Networking folk do it all the time.  

Sales people are trained to do it perfectly. 

Negotiators take it to the highest level.  

In fact, we all do it but often without realising it.  

What am I talking about?  

Building connections by finding something in common with people.

Something that makes other people say ‘Yes, me too!’ when you find the thing that you both can relate to.  

I’ve facilitated many workshops over the past 10 years – bringing together strangers, colleagues and teams alike. One thing that always interests me is how people build connections through finding something in common. All workshops are designed to provide the tools and space for people to connect and communicate to allow for the aims of the session to be achieved. Which, I’m proud to say, does actually happen.  

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

What I’ve noticed however is the simple act of finding something in common can often speed up the process and make those connections deeper, more meaningful and even more enjoyable. After all, who doesn’t like realising that someone grew up a street away from you and often frequented the same sweet shop down the road which still sold 20p mix ups until very recently? 

We all do this to some extent, quite instinctively when we meet someone new. You ask where they are from, search your memory banks to see if you know someone from there, or to see if you’ve ever been there. Find out where they went to school and see if you know anyone who was there at the same time.  

Building connections is a lovely thing to do. It is also really important:

It’s a lovely thing to do when we meet new people. It is also a really important thing to do too – when you feel that you have something in common with someone, you are more likely to trust them.  And with more trust comes better communication which we all know is a good thing.

Some people find those common factors all the time, naturally and without it feeling forced. They are the ones who seem to find it really easy to connect with almost anyone, no matter the situation or personalities involved.  They are the ones who are easy to chat with. The ones that somehow get to know everyone and then end up acting like connectors themselves.  

Others of us aren’t quite so fast! We have differing levels of ability when it comes to finding a common point between us. And some people just really don’t enjoy it, preferring to be private until they are sure they want to share. But we all do it. It can just take a little time and space for some people to find something that you do have in common.  

Doing the opposite. 

Interestingly, we all do the converse of this too. Think back to when you met someone that you didn’t particularly warm to – you were probably far less keen to give away too much about yourself in case you find you have something in common when you really don’t want to have any reason to talk with them! Sometimes there are very good reasons for holding back.

The idea that we can build a connection (or repel one if needed) simply by giving people the time and space to find common ground, is a really important part of people working together well. It is also something to think about in terms of what people actually need – that chit chat can be really important for some people. For others who tend to be more focussed on getting straight to results this may however feel like a waste of time. There is often that delicate line to tread and sharing your life story in search of a connection is probably not what we are looking for!

Building connections at work has become harder.

Since the pandemic, and the increased working from home culture and online meetings, you’ll find you need to work that bit harder to ensure the people in your team do have time to naturally find those common themes. Allowing people (including yourself!) the time and space to have those conversations is key to establishing and maintaining connections. It will give you the opportunity to build a foundation of mutual understanding. Regardless of where those conversations around common factors happen; on the train, by the kettle, in a meeting; we’ll all be better off when we take a moment to find what we have in common. It can often be the starting point for those solid foundations that create a strong and cohesive team. 

If your team is struggling with building those key connections with each other, help is at hand. Get in touch, or book a quick chat with me to find out how some assistance at your next team session could really help your team develop the kinds of connections and relationships which make all the difference. 

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