THE POWER OF HELLO
“Hello” is more than the utterance of simple greeting. In a world that’s engulfed in conflict and divisiveness, a HELLO represents an outreached hand, an invitation to open a dialogue with someone instead of drawing a line in the sand.
Saying HELLO helps you.
Making a habit of saying HELLO to people changes your disposition; it opens your eyes, mind, and heart to those around you. Like most people, you’re probably suffering from stimulus overload to some degree thanks to social media, advertising, longer work days, hyper-connected devices, and so on. You owe it to yourself to re-connect with people through eye-to-eye contact and a warm HELLO.Avoiding personal connections creates a myopia of sorts, it changes your perception of the world and those around you. Saying HELLO more frequently to those you come across throughout the day re-establishes your connection to your family, friends, and community. Doing so broadens your perspective, makes you more amenable to being approached by others when you’re in need, and, in general, makes you a more empathetic person
Finally, it makes you more approachable, which, in turn, increases your circle of friends, personal connections, opportunities for love, etc. Your life becomes richer and full of greater possibilities. Like the studies that show employees who smile more have happier and more satisfied customers, people who reach out with a HELLO to others are more likely to have stronger personal connections because they’re perceived as being more open to listening.
Saying HELLO helps others.
Receiving a HELLO – especially and unexpected one – immediately disarms the mental and emotional barriers people erect to protect themselves in what many perceive a cold, competitive, and dangerous world.You see this often in busy metropolises where people are so wrapped up in their phones, their work or the general hustle and bustle of life. Habitually, they walk around with their eyes and heads down so often than they’ve isolated themselves from their community.
When you say “hello,” you create a connection for communication. Are you able to listen to someone for just a few minutes while you make a connection? We get in such a hurry that we miss out on the biggest ministry—the ministry of “Hi, how’s it going.” You have the power to change the day for each person you step out and talk to. You are different you have something special in your life, but no one can experience it if you don’t let it out.
There are many hurting people around us. Just listening for a few minutes can change the lives of so many of them. When you create connections with people, you too will change as a person. How many people do we pass who think of ending their lives all because no one cares, no one says hello, or no one even notices them? If we are the body of Christ, then why aren’t His hands reaching?
THE POWER OF HOW ARE YOU?
Three words. “How are you?” Seems easy enough, right? How many times do we go through our days at work, where we ask colleagues how they’re doing and we are asked the same…and truly listened to their response and felt heard ourselves? How often have you been able to stop what you were working on to ask someone those three simple words? Have you been able to take time in a meeting and ask the same sentence? Within the simple “How are you?” is the meaningful connection of “I acknowledge and see you.”
We humans have an innate need to belong — to one another, to our friends and families, and to our culture and country. The same is true when we’re at work. When people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.
To better understand the emotional impact of belonging — and its inverse, feeling excluded — we launched the EY Belonging Barometer study, which surveyed 1,000 employed American adults.
Our study substantiated existing evidence that exclusion is a growing issue. We found that more than 40% of those we surveyed are feeling physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace. This group spanned generations, genders, and ethnicities.
In fact, the majority of individuals look to their homes first (62%), before their workplaces (34%) when it comes to where they feel the greatest sense of belonging. While the workplace exceeds neighborhood communities (19%) and places of worship (17%), many individuals spend most of their time at work, and creating workplace communities where people feel like they belong is imperative.
This tells us that many people want more connection with those they work with. So how can companies connect more effectively with employees and help them feel like they belong within their workplace community? The results of our survey pointed to one simple solution: establish more opportunities for colleagues to check in with one another.
We found that 39% of respondents feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally. This was true across genders and age groups, with checking in being the most popular tactic for establishing a sense of belonging across all generations. By reaching out and acknowledging their employees on a personal level, companies and leaders can significantly enhance the employee experience by making their people feel valued and connected.
What didn’t seem to matter that much for belonging? Face time with senior leadership that wasn’t personal. Being invited to big or external events or presentations by senior leaders, as well as being copied on their emails, was simply less meaningful to employees when it came to feeling a sense of belonging.
The art of the check-in
Across EY, we’ve spent a lot of time considering the importance of check-ins with our people —as a way to build relationships regularly, as well as to provide support after significant news or events. Of course, people have different preferences about how they connect with each other at work. While some people may want to sit and talk, some may prefer a digital chat and others may not be open to engaging at all. Learning how to engage with employees in a way that they feel comfortable is key to creating a sense of community. Here are a few tips to consider as you find the right way to check in with colleagues:
Seize the small opportunities to connect: Try to establish connections with your colleagues that communicate that you value, understand, and care about them. Be present, curious, and seize small daily opportunities to connect authentically. For example, a simple “How are you doing? How can I support you?” could go a long way in nearly every setting.
Check bias at the door: Check-ins are a time to listen to another person’s perspectives, not to debate or persuade. If someone shares something that you don’t understand or agree with, you might consider acknowledging their point of view or asking them to tell you more. You may be pleasantly surprised by their response. For instance, “Tell me more about it,” or “I never thought about it from that perspective, but I do realize we can experience the same situation in different ways, so I appreciate you explaining that for me.”
Assume positive intent: Start any conversation with your colleagues believing that those talking or listening mean well, especially when it comes to difficult issues. Sometimes you might fumble through these topics, but assuming positive intent will help you pause, ask clarifying questions, and connect in a more meaningful way. Sometimes, these pauses make a huge difference. It is fine to say, “I am pausing because I just don’t know what to say,” or “I am pausing because I want to learn more from you.”
It’s OK to be vulnerable: Seek feedback from your colleagues, especially those who are junior to you. Demonstrate your trust in them through the way you communicate and act on their feedback. For example, expressing vulnerability by acknowledging their views and talking openly about challenges you’re facing humanizes the relationship you have with your peers and direct reports.
Be consistent and accountable: Be transparent and model consistent, inclusive behavior, even under pressure or during difficult conversations. Expect, reinforce, and reward the accountability of others. For example, offer a conversation to team members when a difficult event occurs, and model inclusive behavior in your own interactions to set an example for other team members.
These five tips may help guide the way, but the journey towards true inclusion is never ending. It is a continuous path that requires commitment from leadership, particularly as more people look to their work communities for validation, safety, fulfillment and happiness.
In turn, this yields tremendous benefits at scale — from engaged employees, to client retention and better financial results. By starting with simple things like a check-in, we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others and even on the bottom line.