Step 1. Create a sense of belonging
Knowing how to create a sense of belonging is very useful – whether you are a team leader, a trainer, a coach or if you occupy any other role that interacts with others (well that’s about everyone isn’t it?)
Belonging is one of our human needs, pre-programmed in to help us survive. When we feel that we belong, we experience a feeling of ‘we are in this together’ and we feel safe, included, connected and motivated. For most people, that feels great, and we don’t want to rock that boat.
Without belonging, i.e., when we feel excluded, we experience stress – maybe just a mild discomfort or possibly a mind-occupying, sleep-stealing kind of stress. In other words, excluding people (for any reason) creates stress and reduces their ability to work well. Continuing in that vein could lead to someone becoming seriously stressed and heading towards burn out.
The difference between these two is chemistry. Experiencing a feeling of belonging and motivation comes from feel-good dopamine, while feeling excluded and stressed comes from the stress hormone, cortisol. The chemicals are produced by the brain as messages that tell us to do more of the activities that create dopamine and to fight against those that create cortisol.
Belonging is essential if you are going to
- be inclusive
- create psychological safety
- weather stormy periods in your life or business
- help a team work together effectively
- support a team to manage differences or difficult conversations
- give feedback to others
- create a space where you can coach and develop others
Here are a few tips to help you create a sense of belonging
- Use “we” rather than “I”
- Actively listen to others
- Find ways to get to know each other
- Get curious about people and what else they need
- In stressful times, don’t let the stress divide you, instead say, “we’re in this together, let’s deal with this uncertainty as a team”
- When you form a team, aim first for belonging which will provide a foundation for safety and trust
Belonging doesn’t mean that you have to be ‘nice’ all the time and give people everything they ask for. It also doesn’t mean that you never give feedback. It’s just a foundational attribute that will make everything else easier. Belonging means being in healthy relationship with others and feeling as if you are on the same side rather than being adversaries.Why are people afraid of feedback?3 ways to increase emotional intelligence in teams