In order to create, problem-solve, and explore new avenues effectively, we need to have, or believe that we have, a certain level of security or safety. If we’re afraid to fail or if we worry that our job is in jeopardy, it is virtually impossible to access our full potential. Some people can create a sense of security for themselves regardless of their environment. They are the exception, not the norm.
With so much in our world being uncertain, how can we create that feeling of safety? What can we do to help ourselves—and others—so that our energy is focused on what we can control, rather than worrying about things that may never happen?
Connecting with others and becoming part of something greater is one way of gaining a sense of security. The old adage “safety in numbers” is literally true. We feel safer if we are connected to others. If you look up “belonging” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it’s directly connected to happiness. It is a universal human need.
While technology ideally positions us to establish a sense of belonging, we are more socially isolated than ever. According to Dr. Brian Primack, Director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh, recent research shows that the people who spent the most time on social media (2+ hours per day) had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who spent 30 minutes or less per day. Beyond the loneliness and detachment that can result, the biggest loss for all of us is the fact that too many people in our communities have gifts that remain on the margins.
To connect with others, fully participate at work instead of staying on the sidelines, being glued to technology, and/or judging with a negative slant. Focus on appreciating the gifts your coworkers bring rather than focusing on what you think they lack. Try to see others as people, not solely as their job title or function. You’ll find that your coworkers respond to these strategies. In fact, those three techniques alone will significantly increase your sense of belonging.
Actively focusing your efforts on creating community for yourself and others will not only reduce your anxiety and allow you to perform better in your job, it will also create an environment where problems are shared, solutions are celebrated, and innovation is the norm. It’s the ultimate universal win—for you, your team, and your employer.