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Connecting better with your colleagues

Connecting with others is essential in order for your business to thrive. Being able to connect at a deeper level can provide great benefits as Neil Denny, conflict resolution, leadership consultant and author explains.

Neil Denny discussing conflict resolution techniques with O2’s Business Director, Ben Dowd and O2’s Head of Social Media, Kristian Lorenzon during our O2 Power Hour’

We can learn a lot from the conflict resolution field. By using the skills that mediators and facilitators use, and by shifting some of our own attitudes and beliefs you can enhance connections within your organisation in order to;

  • Drive innovation
  • Improve collaboration and problem-solving
  • Minimise or avoid the five costs of conflict in money, time, energy, reputation and opportunity
  • Maximise productivity

Here are five approaches to incorporate within your own leadership and management styles that will dramatically improve connections with your staff, clients and suppliers.

1.  Ask more questions

The simplest skill is to tell less and ask more. It sounds simple and it is and yet we so often revert to simply telling, usually because we are anxious about how long it might take to otherwise get things done. Ask yourself this; is it worth investing a few moments in connecting with this person on this issue? Are the potential benefits in innovation, discovery and collaborating worth even two minutes of extra dialogue? It only takes a second to ask a question.

2.  Give up on having to be right

When leaders and managers have to be right then they stop connecting with their staff and colleagues. We see no value in other people’s insights, particularly if they disagree with our own.  We need to remember that even wrong opinions and interpretations may reveal alternative considerations that we might explore and develop. What is more, enabling others to have their say will mean that at least they feel heard – and connected – even if their idea is not implemented.

3. Embrace `Not Knowing’ as an individual, team and organisation

Give yourself and your people permission to `not know’ and develop your ability to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity. This creates rich environments where exploration, play and emergent discovery can thrive to the benefit of your staff and the products and services you are able to develop and sell. New voices within your team will start to speak up and with them will come new insights into capability, products and process.

4.  Stop labelling people

Labelling your people is a great way of disconnecting from them. Don’t do it.  Ask yourself this; do you see each of your colleagues, or clients, as an obstacle, a vehicle or simply irrelevant? If so then you have labelled them, reducing them to the level of an object. You will be missing out on all of their nuances, contradictions and complexities and also their insights, their as yet undiscovered and untapped skills. You will also be missing out on their unstinting loyalty to you and your business.

5. Get curious

Asking questions as recommended above is not enough by itself. You need to develop a genuine sense of curiosity in your staff, your clients and suppliers.  Get hungry for more knowledge about their needs, desires and anxieties. Without that shift to curiosity, all of the above risk being little more than lip service.

Connecting online and offline

Developing these five areas will see dramatic changes in the connection between you and the people you work and do business with. What is more, all of these skills can be developed in face to face communications as well as online. The online platforms for communication and collaboration, such as Microsoft Office 365, Box, Lync and O2’s exciting O2 Just Call Me app can all enhance how well you develop those connections.

I’m curious

What would greater connections mean to you in terms of developing innovation, collaboration and problem solving?

What benefits might there be for you and for those you work with?

How might it transform how you are able to serve your customers and communities?

Which of the above are you going to try first?

Which have you already succeeded with… and to what end?

If you’d like to watch Neil’s talk in full, please watch our O2 Power Hour here

Neil Denny regularly shares other content about connecting, conflict leadership and communications at his blog at


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