I have an anecdotal explanation about my thoughts on this topic. Also included are a few experiences of my own… and a few made-up stories, to explain the thoughts better.
The write-up below is not a well designed crisp “solution” that can be executed as is to achieve a healthy work environment. But it does point towards what may help us.
I am confident that my friends, who are in charge for this purpose in their organizations, will be able to decipher the directions shown by all such ideas posted here – and I am also confident that they’ll come up with something doable and fruitful.
Thank you in advance for reading through.
There is a natural tendency in humans to connect, to reach out, to emote. Even for the so called negative emotions of anger, irritation etc, we need the “other”. i.e. by nature we feel the need for the “recipient” of our expressions. We don’t need to “learn” this art explicitly. It’s there within, like hunger, love, pain..and just needs to be realized.
What happens in the office-scenario is that all these acts of communicating, connecting, bonding, affection, hatred etc rather become our tools that we “use” at will. They no more remain “expressions”. We have our targets to achieve and apart from our core technical skills, we like to acquire skills that will help us “apply” the aforementioned traits inline with our organization’s objectives – to achieve our goals.
Now, all that is good. But since, this again is a conscious “effort” at our end – it just becomes another “work”. We start “doing” bonding. Though apparently we are communicating, connecting, bonding etc, but gradually it starts feeling like a task – to be completed on time, with high quality.
Here, I just wanted to share some of my past experiences that helped me realize and overcome this. During my training days for film-making and music composition, there was a specific section, in the workshop’s lesson plans, that took care of the aesthetics, team bonding, and other humane aspects (apart from the technologies) of these domains. We were given time for simple games and exercises that needed collaboration, communication. Before going for outdoor shoots and sound-recordings etc, we often were made to play games in which we would select a leader for amongst the team, divide the tasks, and proceed with the game. There were also simple activities like without speaking you had to guide a blind-folded team-mate to cross hurdles and reach a destination. You just had to traverse the whole path, cross the hurdles yourself.. and the blind-folded person will sense your presence and try to follow you. Also, we used to play simple outdoor games and the teams were formed irrespective of our actual technical roles in the workshop. I started knowing my “stranger” team-mates better. Remembering their names didn’t become a task for my head. I just myself remembered them after a game or two.
A team-mate was furious at me during one of the recordings. The next day he gave me a tough time during the game. But, now his anger had got channelized in dodging me in the game. And while at work he just didn’t have any spare thoughts left to focus on me. We were all focusing on the task at hand rather than fixing our personal matters. So, not just for the positive traits, such activities also helped us vent out the negative ones in a playful manner – and rather acted as a platform for catharsis of our minds.
Now the gist in this is – living through all these experiences I have realized that in all such exercises the mind was “playful”. Since there was no goal to achieve, we were just so playful. The collaboration, connecting to peers, team bonding and all those big jargons started to seem like our second nature – without us realizing this!
And then this started showing its effect on our work also. I’ve literally experienced this that – I had a strong difference in opinion with a team-mate on one of our shooting-days. And we did express this to each other in quite an “expressive” manner. There was unease in the mind after that. But the very next day, playing one such game – if you saw us, you won’t ever imagine that we had a verbal dual just few hours before. We were into the game, collaborating, communicating and more importantly – enjoying! Now, when we went back to the shoot we had the same old work, the same equipment, the same people around AND the same difference in opinion – all this did remind us of the old situation, and I really can’t say that we were super-friendly and looking in the same direction there on. But there was a difference. I felt my mind, which was just thinking of the self till now, had expanded a bit. I could get glimpses of what his point of view was. And apparently his behavior and reactions were also changed a bit – for good!
So in nut shell, I just feel may be including some playfulness in our mindsets may help. What the organization can do is provide platforms and channels and opportunities where people can get together and move together in one direction – not to reach and conquer a fortress, but just to enjoy the journey! Games, dances, theatre, music etc are some good examples that have helped me. As compared to a few years back, I feel myself to be more “inclusive” now due to such activities and engagements that I have lived through. And also, I’ve rather started to “relate” to people than just connect. Needless to say, on the core work front also, I have seen more creative and “out of the box” ideas popping up in my mind as compared to earlier. Rather than trying to hard to give a creative solution to a problem, my attitude and approach are becoming creative, and these engagements play a big role in this shift. So may be if we extrapolate these results from one individual to the organization – it should work it seems!
Thanks for your time. Best wishes.