Since you spend a significant amount of time at work, part of each day, most likely, is spent talking with coworkers around the water cooler. Having conversations promotes intellectual curiosity and encourages learning, feeling challenged and exploring the world. These all encourage achievement, personal growth, and productivity. Conversations energize you and your coworkers and stimulate creative thinking. You can share ideas, thoughts and opinions you otherwise may not be able to. For these reasons, you want to make your water-cooler conversations more meaningful than they typically are. Here are three ways how.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Begin meaningful conversations by asking open-ended questions. Your goal is to understand coworkers and connect with them on a deeper level. For instance, find out who a person is when they leave the office and what makes them tick. You might ask, “What energizes you outside of work?” “What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit?” Or, “What’s something you saw recently that made you smile?” You could dig a little deeper with other questions. For instance, “If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?” “What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?” Or, “What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?” In addition to forming strong workplace connections, meaningful conversations promote active listening, encourage coworkers to share their thoughts, and lead to additional growth. These conversations help you and your coworkers understand each other’s values and beliefs, which increases morale.
Find Common Interests
Discover which interests you have in common with your coworkers. Because you spend so much time discussing business-related topics and projects, delve into who you are outside of the office. See beyond each other as coworkers with titles and positions. Find out whether you share similar hobbies. Perhaps you play on or follow sports teams. Maybe you enjoy similar workout routines. Finding commonality provides a foundation for meaningful conversations and deeper relationships.
Tell Personal Stories
Sharing stories about yourself helps coworkers get to know each other better. Revealing something personal about yourself builds connection and trust. Getting to know coworkers on a deeper level fosters a culture of safety and support. Showing parts of your true self helps you feel more authentic and reduces stress. Identifying with others’ experiences establishes commonality and understanding, so you identify with each other.
Along with creating bonds, sharing experiences helps you understand yourself better. Through hearing personal stories, you see your strengths and vulnerabilities reflected back to you. You learn lessons and provide wisdom for others to benefit from. Or, you see a different viewpoint or solution you didn’t consider.
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