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Human Connections in a Digital Workplace with the HBDI®

by | Nov 1, 2021

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Over the past couple of years most companies have transitioned permanently to working remotely in some capacity, while others have even given up the office for good. But despite the convenience of working from home and saving time on the commute, it’s likely this will inevitably take a toll on the human connections that we build face-to-face with our colleagues. 

Regardless of how many Zoom meetings we hold, or how many Microsoft Teams check-ups or emails we send, online interactions seem to merely replicate the impact of face-to-face communication. However, the good news is that by integrating a framework such as the Whole Brain® Thinking Model into your organisation, you may be able to help colleagues collaborate more effectively and build deeper relationships – all while working remotely. 

Before we explore how Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® can assist in overcoming the hurdles of building human connections in a digital workplace, it’s important to understand in more detail some of the limitations of working remotely. Let’s explore a few of these now. 

1. Reading non-verbal cues

Being able to read and interpret non-verbal cues accurately is crucial in supporting our communication skills, enabling us to make rational decisions and strengthen our relationships with colleagues. Unfortunately, this is made incredibly difficult when staring into a screen. 

During face-to-face interactions, we have full sight of a colleague’s body language, posture, reactions and facial expressions. This allows us to gauge how actively someone is listening, or how they may be reacting to news you’re sharing. Not only does this provide us with a deeper understanding of our colleagues as a person, it helps us build stronger relationships as we know when to offer extra support or help as required. 

To overcome this barrier in the online world, leveraging the HBDI® could help you understand the thinking styles of your colleagues. Having awareness of your own individual and colleague’s thinking style makes us more conscious about the needs of those around us, giving us a rational sense of how we can interact with each individual to improve collaboration. 

For instance, if your colleague is a lower right C quadrant thinker, they tend to have an emotional, feeling and interpersonal orientation. When working with red thinkers we know they will appreciate a small five minute chat before we dive into any tasks, and to be cautious when criticising them as they may be overly self critical. By having this knowledge of our colleagues, it could significantly decrease the chances of work conflict or confusion and in fact may assist us in bolstering our team relationships. 

2. Online Miscommunication 

Unfortunately, despite the advancement of technology, miscommunication is a frequent issue in the digital world. Just think about how many times you’ve misinterpreted someone when you’ve made contact via zoom calls, emails and text messages.  

In a digital setting, it’s difficult to clarify questions on the spot, and it could take much longer to resolve any confusion. The Whole Brain® Model provides an excellent framework to promote effective communication across digital technologies. The key is to frame your communication by taking into account all four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. By doing so, you are able to ensure your team understands you from the get go. 

Again, we can build stronger relationships with our colleagues by understanding their thinking style. For instance, to work effectively with an A-quadrant thinker, you should ensure you have supporting facts or figures to back up your suggestions and ideas. 

Does it feel like your communications are getting “lost in translation”? Discover this How-To Guide for Communicating with Different Thinkers that will give some quick tips to help you communicate with different thinkers based on the Whole Brain® Model. 

3. Build Rapport 

It’s challenging to build trust and relationships over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. As humans we’re programmed to analyse minute details face-to-face – even if we don’t consciously realise. Unfortunately with most of us sick of staring at screens and feeling burnt out, it becomes easy to assume the worst when we connect online. 

In the office you can simply turn your head to check on your colleagues and read their facial expressions or body language to know whether they may be stressed with work, struggling with an idea, needing assistance with a computer issue, in need of a caffeine kick, feeling unwell and more. Being aware of these cues gives us the chance to be there for our colleagues and build rapport. 

The good news is that the HBDI® can help here too. For example if your colleague is a green lower left B quadrant thinker, this implies they prefer things structured and organised. So sudden changes like the pandemic may have caused them to be immensely stressed or pressured. This was an opportunity to offer a hand of support. Not only could this build rapport between you and your colleague, it may also boost the overall ‘one team’ mindset and increase work efficiency. 

Leverage the HBDI® as a tool to improve digital relationships

The Whole Brain® framework serves as a powerful common language across a wide range of application areas from communication and team collaboration to decision-making, strategy, innovation, customer insights and diversity & inclusion. By acknowledging the type of quadrant thinker you and those around you are, it could positively impact the way you interact with others. 

With the HBDI®, we can have conversations with our colleagues which can lead to stronger relationships, fewer misunderstandings and a higher-performing team in a hybrid or digital working world. 

Interested in making use of the Whole Brain® Thinking framework and the HBDI® to improve emotional intelligence and build great relationships within the workplace? Get in touch with Herrmann today.

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