We live in a world of social connections. 100s of friends on Facebook and many more connections on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But how well do we really know with people who matter?

Vivek Murthy wrote an excellent article in the September 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review on “Work and The Loneliness Epidemic” and showcased that while technology helps to connect us more than ever before, more than 40% of adults in America feel lonely and many employees and half of CEOs feel lonely in their corporate roles.

While the article draws excellent parallels between loneliness and our physical and mental health, the one element that stood out the most was his comments on team building practices where his team members shared pictures and told stories about themselves for five minutes during staff meetings. The impact was huge.

“Presenting was an opportunity for each of us to share more of who we were; listening was an opportunity to recognize our colleagues in the way they wished to be seen.”

-- Vivek Murthy

Think now for a moment about the people who are working within 30 feet of you right now. How well do you really know them? And where does your assessment of them come from – your own observations in projects and meetings or their ability to share their personal perspectives with you?

The ability for teams to truly work together in a successful environment means understanding and respecting your team members’ backgrounds and experience. Too often, teams jump to quick fix morale boosters like a happy hour to try to bring people together. In many cases, these efforts just keep people focused on a common topic of discussing work – and not themselves.

The challenge for all the readers of this post is to think about your team members, think about how well you really know them and to challenge yourself to determine ways to let team members share their true selves.

We guarantee this will be a first successful step to forming a better work environment!

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