The Lost Art of Connection in Business

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman named Susan McPherson and we discussed the effects of connection in business and life. Read ahead for insight.

How have relationships influenced your professional development and leadership style?

In so many ways. As a coach, facilitator, advisor, writer, and lifelong learner, my most distinctive take on relationships is the power of peer learning. I have always sought out peer groups, formal or informal, of other people facing similar challenges, or different challenges with similar values, as a source of advice, support, solidarity, and accountability. Because these groups have been so transformational for me, I have built peer learning into the ways I serve clients and even my speaking. I know, from research and experience, that we learn best when we engage with the material at hand and apply it to our own lives. There’s no more rewarding or effective way to do that than by sharing challenges, insights, hopes, fears, and needs with other people. In turn, these engaged, developmental, growth conversations give rise to deep, authentic, mutually beneficial, and lasting relationships.

Do you have any tips for maintaining and building strong relationships?

Build relationships based on shared action. If you do things together, you establish shared experiences and memories that endure, regardless of your location, stage in life, or job role. For introverts like me, it’s also far more appealing to connect over a task, challenge, or practical context, rather than starting with small talk or casual conversation. To get to this shared action, it can actually help to be more transactional. Per Susan’s second step of ‘ask’ — it’s powerful to ask clearly for what you need, as that often leads to collaborating somehow with the other person to meet your needs, which deepens your bond.

As well of course as asking what others need, want, and dream of, which is why curiosity is also key. We’re all changing all the time — if you meet people as the people they were last time you interacted, you’re probably out of date. Especially with those ‘weaker ties’ that are so powerful for professional advancement, and in this rapidly changing world, you might’ve missed a chapter. Never assume that someone still identifies as they used to —…



Nell Derick Debevoise, Inspiring Cowgirl Queen

I wrangle people, ideas, and horses to make work healthier, fairer, and more inspiring for all. CEO, 3D Performance, Partner, PurposeFused. Author, Going First.