Category: Connection

The Conversation Placebo

Can a doctor heal patients just by talking with them? Sounds a little bit dubious, but not so far-fetched when you consider the power of conversation and Connection. In this provocative NY Times article, author Danielle Ofri explores the important role of conversation in the patient-physician relationship and argues that words can create a placebo effect. Connection that takes place when conversation leads the way is more powerful than we know. In fact, face-to-face conversation encourages one of the most important Connections in our industry: the healing Connection. A few years back, Canadian researchers found that the mere act of having understanding and encouraging communication with patients decreased their pain by 55%. The “conversation placebo” relieves suffering and expedites recovery.

This literal application of the conversation placebo can be applied in more environments than just the patient room. When we use Intentional, fully present conversations as a tool to Connect with our team members, their anxieties and concerns are alleviated.


Take Time for Tea Time

Tea time did not become a ritual just for an afternoon pick-me-up. In fact, the tea ceremony dates back to the 9th Century and is not focused on the consumption of tea at all. It’s a symbol of hospitality and of creating a positive Experience for your guests. It is a simple and restrained ceremony designed to create harmony. Each movement is carefully considered from both the host’s and guest’s point of view. It is a time set aside to honor the past through tradition and celebrate the present through thoughtful human Connection.

There’s great reciprocity in the tea ceremony – and in the work done in health care. In the hospital or medical office, there is always the server of the tea (the provider) and the individual being served the tea (the patient, guest, or family member). Our organizations should be a symbol of our hospitality as well. We must ensure that the sole purpose of the Connections we make in our organizations is not driven purely by the desire to “fix” whatever is “broken” with our patients and guests. Instead, the goal should be to honor their past, be in the present, and ensure that they have the most positive Experience possible.

What possibilities could be realized when we make the effort, time, and care to sit down with fellow team members for tea? How might we ensure that we are creating the most memorable Experience for them and honoring their needs?

EQ, Not IQ

“According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.” We found this eye-opening stat in a great piece in Fast Company. When we place value in someone’s ability to forge Connections and label that as a strength, we build great leaders and great teams. What once was deemed a “soft skill,” emotional intelligence is increasingly one of our greatest professional assets.

Celebrating you and your team’s ability to LEAD in a way that’s emotionally intelligent helps create meaning in your work each and every day. Emotionally intelligent individuals are not only better at Connecting with others, they’re better at Connecting a problem to the best solution.

When we tune into the way in which we are Connected to everyone and everything around us, we create more compassionate services and servants. Our Connection to the universal “we” helps us find greater meaning in our purpose within our organizations.


Share a Cup

How do you get people to Connect and share success stories with each other? You set up a giant cup of coffee on the street and ask people to hop in and chat, of course! It’s incredible what you learn, over, and sometimes inside, a cup.


SPARK Volume 6 – Applying Connection as a Leader


Making a Magical Connection

It takes at least seven minutes to form a true Connection during a conversation. In an age where technology buzzes, pings, and interrupts us on a nearly continual basis, this finding by social psychologist Sherry Turkle inspires us to think about how we can practice Connection. She discusses conversation and gives us some ideas about how to make it happen in this podcast from the Note to Self series “Infomagical.”

What does it take to have a truly human, face-to-face interaction for seven minutes these days? Why seven minutes? It takes that long to get past the settling in – the initial chat – and really dig into the meat of the conversation.

As leaders, when we encourage our team members to truly Connect, and take the time to do it right, we create a Connection culture – a culture where Connections are sought after because they create valuable interactions. We know it’s not easy to remove all of the dings, mental distractions, and alerts urging us to read and reply. It seems so much easier to shoot off a quick note and be done with it. But creating human Connections opens the door to so much more – and is truly time well spent.

Try having a full seven-minute, face-to-face conversation with someone - no phone, computer, or device - and discuss something you've recently heard, read, or watched. What is the hardest part about this exercise? What did you discover that you would have missed if you had Connected for only a minute or if you had been distracted by technology?

Google’s Search for the Magic Team Formula

The folks over at Google launched an extensive project – codename “Project Aristotle” – to determine the magic formula for teamwork. After years of intense analysis, they discovered the key is just plain ol’ “being nice.” It’s not so much about who is on the team, but about how team members interact, what kind of environment that creates, and how it fosters teamwork.

Google shows us the incredible importance of taking the time to understand others – finding a way to relate and then making yourself understood. In other words, making a Connection. With Project Aristotle, the Google team thought it would surely be the mix of people on the team that determined its success, and then they spent several years proving themselves “dead wrong.” To test the project’s findings, one Google manager hosted a team meeting to talk about his recent cancer diagnosis. Initially, everyone was silent then eventually they began sharing their own stories. The manager had created a safe environment where team members felt comfortable sharing and Connecting. Once everyone shares the belief that it’s safe to take risks and contribute ideas, that’s when the magic happens.

How might we make Connections to create a sharing environment for our teams? How could we do a better job inviting people to Connect?

“I’m sorry. We’re out of snapper.”

When Experience Design expert and restaurateur Danny Meyer reopened his famous Union Square Cafe, he did so through the lens of Connection. Bridging the gap between dining and technology, Meyer partnered with a reservation system startup to create an Apple Watch app that pings every manager in the restaurant when there is a potential moment for service recovery. For example, if a menu item runs out in the kitchen, the managers can inform their guests ahead of time and provide them with an alternative suggestion so as not to disappoint.

This technology, aimed to enhance human Connections, also provides opportunities to create small moments of surprise and delight for diners; when the managers are pinged that the guests are signing their check, the host can retrieve their coats and have them ready when the guests exit.

If technology can create Connection in fine dining, how can it be applied to health care? We have so many opportunities to enhance the Connective Experience we create in our organizations – sometimes we just have to think outside the box.

Brainstorm! What could an app be programmed to tell team members that might enhance their daily Experience? How could it be programmed to enhance the patient Experience?

SPARK Volume 5 – The Power of Connection

Connection. It’s the energy that ties you to a person, a place, a memory – a relationship to your team members, to yourself, and to your work. It is one of the most vital aspects of our existence.

When we use last month’s principle of Intention as a guide and decision filter, something powerful happens – we are Connected to a greater whole. It’s no surprise then that, as we wrap up our focus on Intention, we are moving to the principle of Connection.

As leaders, we are the Connective tissue and the bridge between people, between partners, and between goals. Understanding and creating a Connection across all of the disciplines in the work we do ensures that all of the pieces fit into the whole and that we’re aiming to make a better Experience for our team members, providers, patients, and guests.

While Intention is a practice that can be done solitarily, Connection, by definition, requires an “other” – another person, another team, another goal we’re trying to reach. When we make the Connection and Connect-the-dots, we are bridging the gap of the unknown. We are the glue.

Healing requires Connections — between doctors and patients, between patients and family members, between the many members of our care teams. These are the Connections that define our patients’ memories of our hospitals. When their families think of our organizations, they remember the way our triage team held their loved one’s hands and told them they were going to heal.

Write down the people and things you feel the strongest Connections with. What strengths are you bringing, and what sustenance are they providing you? How do you maintain this Connection over time?

Eyes on Connection

We LOVE this intense video by artist Marina Abramović. As part of a retrospective at the MoMA, Abramović created a live exhibit in which she sat and LOOKED into the eyes of a complete stranger without speaking for one uninterrupted minute. Strangers can form deep Connections with their eyes alone. What she didn’t know was that her former lover and fellow artist, Ulay, whom she hadn’t seen since the 1970s, was waiting to LOOK into her eyes again.

Without uttering a word, we can feel the sparks fly and the Connection crackle between Ulay and Marina, and this type of Connection has actually been scientifically proven. Researchers at Cornell University found that LOOKING into the eyes of another fosters a sense of Connection and “only actual eye contact fully activates those parts of the brain that allow us to more acutely and accurately process another person’s feelings and intentions.”

When we take a moment to truly see someone, we can understand the power of eye contact in making a Connection. Try it with your team. Pair off, LOOK into your partner's eyes, and see what kind of Connections you can make without words.