I recently started a meeting by having all in attendance share a picture that said something important about their life and then tell everyone about it.
One person shared a picture of themself participating in their favorite sport and talked about how it helped them deal with the stress of working from home during COVID-19.
Another showed us a picture of a big catch of fish and told a heart-warming story of the first time he took his son fishing 20 years ago and the bond they still have today over that shared activity.
Several people revealed photos of their children. Some included stories of fun times together and some included challenging situations and lessons learned.
It was a lot of fun and very interesting, but it wasn’t just fun and games. This was what I call a “connection starter.” Some call it an icebreaker.
I begin meetings with connection starters to help teams find common ground and improve human relations before diving into the “important” content.
Too many businesses don’t bother with connection starters; thinking they are a waste of time. I know this time is well spent.
Why Human Connections Help Build Strong Businesses
Humans have a deep desire to connect with other people, to find something in common with them.
When we connect with others, we listen to them differently. When people share ideas or make suggestions, we understand where they are coming from. We understand their point of view.
Connections lower barriers, build rapport, and establish trust.
Trust breeds teamwork. Teamwork leads to business success.
So connection starters are about much more than breaking the ice to run a good meeting. The benefits last long after the meeting ends.
Some Connection Starters for You
I have several connection starters in my arsenal. Here are a few prompts and questions you can try:
- Share a positive change you’ve experienced during the pandemic. What good things have come out of this situation?
- Describe what you like to do in your free time. What makes you smile? Where is your happy place?
- What was your first job? What did you like or dislike about it?
I like that last one. It often leads to funny stories. Shared stories and laughter build connections.
Connection Starters and the Big Picture
Last month I shared the story of a company owner who craves useful feedback from his employees but never receives it.
I noted that trust is a critical ingredient for inspiring employees to give feedback and participate in meaningful conversation. “If you don’t have alignment and trust, then people won’t say what’s on their minds. They won’t challenge you and one another in a professional and proper way.”
Enter connection starters. They aren’t the only way to build trust. But they are a simple and effective way to do it.
That’s the point of this post and the others: They offer you the ingredients you need to be more effective -- as a leader, as a team-member, as a business.
So I encourage you to read and reread the emails I send and the blog posts on my site. Combined together, they give you a recipe for greater success.
Want to Put It All Together to Maximize Results?
Schedule a free 30-minute call with Cheryl who has 27 years of experience helping business leaders plan the recipe and combine the ingredients to achieve greater success, both professionally and personally. In this 30-minute consultation, you can discuss with Cheryl pressing business challenges and desired outcomes. Cheryl will offer actionable insights that will help you achieve the transformations you seek.