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  • Writer's pictureAndi Davison LVT

Curiosity Leads to Connection

“The communication at my hospital is lacking.”

“I don’t feel heard or included.”

“I wish I had more of a

connection at work!”

We hear a lot about communication issues from hospitals struggling to create a more positive culture. People aren’t feeling heard, included, or validated. That is a big problem.

Research reveals that interpersonal relationships at work impact both job and life satisfaction. The relationships we have with management seem to be the most important. They have the capacity to promote positivity, encourage thriving, and lay a foundation for flourishing.

Flourish examined the impact of positive leadership on veterinary teams. We found that team members that have high-quality relationships with their leaders reported higher job satisfaction and workplace wellbeing. High-quality communication is a key component of high-quality relationships so the way leaders communicate with team members really matters. If it's unhealthy everything suffers.

Positive psychologists agree. Positive relationships will promote optimism, resilience, trust and happiness. It's no wonder that we put so much time and energy into our social connections.

The thing is, sometimes leaders become so excited about establishing a connection they become overly focused on themselves. “Yes! I get you and here are all the ways I can prove that!”. We all do this. I do

it and so do you. It certainly isn’t a bad thing and can promote connection and engagement but, if used too often, can lead to one sided conversations and “tunnel talk.”

We all know that when it comes to communication there are two parts: listening and responding. Researchers have determined that there are a wide range of styles that can be used to navigate each part. While they are both important, here we are going to concentrate on responding. More specifically, responding to someone when they share good news with you!

Because who doesn’t like to hear a bit of good news these days?! Right?

Psychologist Shelly Gable claims that the quality of a relationship is heavily influenced by the response to good news!

Most people are kind and empathetic when responding to bad news. Good news, on the other hand, requires more of our mental attention and genuine curiosity. It encourages us to set ourselves aside and allows an opportunity to respond in a way that can nurture a connection.

Let’s use the following example to understand these styles further. You have just been gifted a lovely bouquet of flowers from a very grateful client. You are pleased and fully appreciate the kind gesture. You see your co-worker in the breakroom while putting the flowers in water and say, “Look at these beautiful flowers I just got from Ms. McPheeters!”

According to Dr. Gable, your coworker is likely to respond in one of four ways:

  • Passive constructive - “Oh, that’s cool.”

  • Active destructive - “Cut flowers are the worst, they always turn brown so fast.”

  • Passive destructive - “I got flowers from a client last week too! Let me tell you about it.”

  • Active constructive - “Oh, wow! I’m so glad. Tell me more about why Ms. McPheeters brought them for you!”

In our efforts to relate it can be easy to slip into a passive destructive response style and share all the reasons why “I get you.” However, this can lead to conversation hijack and a shift in focus. You are excited to share your gift of flowers and become deflated and dismissed when your co-worker jumps in to tell you about all the times, THEY got flowers. The potential positive emotional experience has been negated by this choice in response style.

Most of us don’t do this on purpose. We are simply trying to relate AND it isn’t difficult to see how that can backfire on our attempts to create connection. After all, which response style would YOU rather have when sharing good news with a coworker?

Having your good news met with the genuine curiosity and kindness of an active constructive response style, allows you to savor in your accomplishment. It encourages the focus to remain on you and will broaden and build positive emotions for everyone involved.

Therefore, I encourage you to be inquisitive, ask questions and seek to support the celebration of others when they share good news with you. Ask questions about the inspiring information and be a source of positive emotions - after all they chose YOU to share it with.

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