The adoption of Positive Psychology methods has been gaining popularity as a way to focus on building a good life. As University of Michigan professor and positive psychology guru Christopher Peterson puts it, it's the "scientific study of what makes life most worth living."
Apps for Optimism
Positive Psychology studies show that participants that kept daily gratitude journals ranked higher in happiness and reported lower stress levels. Technology can help create this practice of optimism through popular apps like Grateful, which literally helps you count your blessings.
One team I worked with would have weekly 30-minute meet-ups where we would follow a guided meditation through an app called Calm, a tool focused on helping others learn the life-changing skill of meditation. We would all join in a quiet conference room, close our eyes, and follow the guided meditation. Doing this mid-day as a group created accountability, and we each left refreshed and recharged.
Not everyone is a natural born optimist. For those of us that could use a little more positivity in our day, finding time for gratitude and reflection can elevate our optimism.
Insights into Passion and Purpose
Connect with colleagues through social media channels as a way to go deeper in understanding who they are and what they are passionate about. So much of what we do on our "personal time" is kept secret from our colleagues. Like the three-day family camping trip you shared on Facebook. Or the amazing four-course meal you prepared and posted on Instagram.
Choose the right platform and be responsible with the amount of sharing. This takes maturity and evaluating where you work. If you use your social media accounts to complain about work, another opportunity could be to start small by sharing a pic from your weekend with the team on an email or Slack channel.
A team coordinator I once worked with had a personal Instagram account solely centered on vegan food. She baked, visited restaurants, and shared stories about all things vegan. It was evident from her posts that this was something she was passionate about and allowed the team to get to know her outside of the office walls.
Her passion for well-crafted vegan food was a compliment to her role as a team coordinator. Both in and out of work, she was passionate about creating meaningful, beautiful experiences for the people around her.
The platform doesn't matter as much as the content. The idea is to open up and build trust by sharing insights into who you are and what makes you tick.
Connecting through Video Conferencing
The advance of video conferencing has allowed remote teams to collaborate from around the world--in their pajamas. But it has also created barriers, where we have fewer interactions with our colleagues to connect at a deeper level.
Leverage video conferencing to do something you miss when meeting in the office--get a brief glimpse into a team member's home and life.
While we often situate our home-office so that others don't see the pile of laundry in the background, it's those "life moments" that actually connect us, tapping into an understanding of what drives others.
I worked on a project where a team member once joined when he was working at his parent's house--the home he grew up in. Behind his chair, you could see a generation of family photos and award ribbons. While we were waiting for other team members to join, he shared the fascinating story of how he and his father used to raise and train pigeons.
The technology of video conferencing allows us to join from wherever we are. An often missed opportunity is to use it as a looking glass into the life of a colleague, connecting us briefly beyond the workplace walls.
Rather than trying to stage a perfect setting, allow team members to see you in the wild and get to know you in your natural environment. Dirty laundry and all.
How can technology be designed to make for better workplace interactions and social connections? When it's used to assist, not replace the human connections, and emphasizes the importance of having a higher purpose and the value of social connections at work.