Warm relationships--whether in your personal or professional life--are the single biggest promoter of happiness that humans know, according Happy Brain Science CEO Scott Crabtree.

If that sentence just made you uncomfortable, you're not alone. Many have an aversion to warm and fuzzy feelings in the office. 

Through his work, Crabtree provides consulting and coaching services to organizations that wish to promote happiness. He knows that while it's easy to recognize the importance of showing compassion to friends and family, there isn't usually an abundance of "warm" behavior in the workplace. 

The reason it sounds unnatural, Crabtree recently told First Round Review, is because most people usually don't usually feel comfortable enough with their colleagues to even begin to show things like gratitude and random acts of kindness. 

Crabtree once experienced this in a very noticeable way when he worked for Intel. After his division reorganized, he suddenly had to work with people that he didn't know. Everyone felt like they were strangers, and rather than get to know one another, they each kept their head buried in their work.

The environment turned competitive and hostile quickly, and Crabtree said his productivity dropped as a result. So he confided in his manager, who listened and then came up with a really effective response.

"We decided to each give what's called a Pecha Kucha presentation. In Japanese, Pecha Kucha roughly means chit chat," Crabtree explained. Every employee created 10 slides, which they talked about for 10 seconds each. The only rule was that people couldn't talk about their lives at work, which encouraged them to share personal stories.

"The difference was immediate and significant," he said. "We immediately started treating each other less like competitors and more like collaborators."

And as his mood improved, his productivity improved. "It's the best tool I have ever seen for quickly building trust and understanding on a team," Crabtree said. 

Published on: Oct 10, 2014