1: “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the longest and most comprehensive study on human happiness.
Period. Hard stop.
Robert tells us: “It’s not the number of friends you have; it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares the “Very Happy People” study results, which examined the shared characteristics of the 10% happiest people.
Turns out there was only one shared characteristic: the strength of their social relationships.
People with close relationships are better at dealing with stress. They are less likely to view stressful situations as stressful. And, when terrible things happen, they hold on tighter to their social support network instead of turning inward.
Shawn tells us not only are these people happier, but they are also more productive, engaged, energetic, and resilient.
2: What does this mean for us as leaders?
It may seem counter-intuitive.
The more we encourage our team members to socialize, the more motivated they feel, and the longer they can stay focused on a task.
Then there’s this: the strength of the bond between manager and associate is the best predictor of the length of time people stay at a company.
When we think of the best leaders we have known, chances are they went out of their way to make us feel cared for.
3: Shawn shares some suggestions on what to do to strengthen the relationships in our lives. It’s not rocket science:
Look people in the eye.
Be present. When someone enters, put your phone down and/or stop typing.
Be curious. Ask questions.
Initiative conversations that aren’t always task oriented
Seek to learn one new thing each day about our colleagues
Reflection: What’s in the way of strengthening the most meaningful relationships in my life?
Action: Prioritize people and relationships.