The promising new frontier of remote work has collided with the stark reality of an always-on lifestyle. Many are experiencing long hours, meetings that run one into the next, phone calls past “typical” working hours, and tasking round-the-clock just to keep pace. For some, the benefits that come with working from the comfort of a home office, patio, or even living room couch far outweigh these challenges. For others, the unchanging environment, increased hours, and influx of virtual communication might be harder to bear than expected. Trying to find the best working conditions for everyone is like trying to put together the pieces of a big puzzle. Every piece might look the same, but they’re each unique with a very specific fit.
In this way, teams are always in search of that missing piece. Something, or someone, that helps everything fit together a little better. When it comes to team relationships it’s not about titles, experience, knowledge, or even skills. A team’s impact on one another is based more on things like behaviors, preferences, and needs. While the contributions of each member support the success of an entire team—the team’s acknowledgment of each person, attention to their preferences, and celebration for their passions are crucial to creating a productive and positive environment.
Regardless of a team’s purpose or type of production, a critical component for every team is psychological safety. Each person needs to feel that they’re listened to, understood, and respected. That their voice has an impact and that they’re valued for much more than the work that they produce. This concept is embedded in the interworkings of relational intelligence (RI). In this relational intelligence overview video, Devin Singh Ph.D. explains how empathy, communication, and the ability to resolve conflict are every team member’s responsibility.
While this recent remote experience looks the same on the surface, the reality is that it can feel slightly different for everyone. In times like these, people need to connect with their passion and feel a sense of purpose in what they do. Like a puzzle, the current environment might be helping some people feel that, but while for others it might be farther out of reach. The best way to find out is to exercise a little relational intelligence. Today, do your fellow team members a favor and lean in with empathy. Ask them how they are. How do they feel that they’re doing? What challenges are getting in their way? What do they need? Then, the simple act of intently listening to understand will go a long way in helping you feel a little closer, even if further away.
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
– Booker T. Washington
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