There are several distinct phases in our lives, progressing from childhood through adulthood, before retirement beckons. Education generally spans the first 18 years, followed by college or university. Many of us go straight from school into work, which reduces the opportunity to make new connections. Once in work, we may also develop relationships around personal interests like sport, the arts or other leisure pursuits. For some in adulthood there is another place where new friendships blossom, which is at the school gate waiting to collect our young offspring!
The four main stages of our lives can be marked by school, college, work and leisure. We learn about relationships as we develop within our own close family, but very soon start to understand that we must get along with other people too, in the “outside world”. The necessity to co-exist and co-operate is instinctive and humans are naturally gregarious. We are all programmed to survive, but the essential requirement to acquire food and water means that we must also be prepared to compete with each other.
Aristotle said “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” He was emphasising what has been repeated many times since, which is that we are sensitive to the feelings and reactions of others within our social circle. The imperative to co-operative for our mutual survival means sharing information and respecting other points of view.
Relationships are not consistent or easy to maintain. Many of our natural impulses, fed by feelings including insecurity, distrust, greed and ambition, undermine the vital connections on which we depend. The best and most practical solution is to be open and honest with our peers, but sometimes that only happens with an external stimulus. In simple terms, if you want your team or wider organisation to function coherently, communication and consultation are essential. Tapping into the natural human tendency to want to work together is a continuous obligation for chosen leaders, as there has always been a hierarchy in human social behaviour. While the prehistoric hunter-gatherers were out foraging, the mothers and sisters were heating the caves and huts, feeding the babies, collecting water and turning animal skins into primitive clothing. Stereotypical definitions of the roles of the sexes have been dismissed in recent times, but the basic need for communities to share skills and perform vital tasks still applies, especially in the workplace.
We can all develop and grow by listening and learning from others about their experiences, ideas and innovations. This mutual dependency is the foundation for success in any endeavour, but very often activity stifles reflection. There must be time allocated specifically for considering and debating how to improve processes and performance. It is wise to remember the relevance of Darwinism, which reminds us that “all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.” Making those incremental adjustments – otherwise known as change or transformation – can only be achieved successfully and smoothly with dialogue and agreement. Every business leader can tap into our natural sociability by bringing people together in live events.
#meetings #conferences #teamwork #relationships #performance #communication