I'm an introvert by nature. I have no problem speaking to groups of people or interacting with my clients and team members at work. But on my own time, I have to be careful not to isolate myself. This was a particular concern during the pandemic.
At the same time, while I'm prone to introversion, I value and celebrate communities. And communities, along with all the other benefits they bring, can be an antidote to isolation.
Recently, I began thinking with focus and intention about the communities to which I belong. There are dozens of project groups I'm a part of at my full-time job. These are communities and thinking about them as such helps me value them more.
I also belong to a variety of communities related to my profession as a volunteer and participant. And I volunteer in my town, and those groups are communities. Finally, I participate in social communities for fun and friendship, including one that started during the first year of the pandemic and still meets online each week.
After this quick community self-audit, I realized I'm not as isolated as I thought, but am I getting the most out of these communities and are they getting the most out of me?
Being aware of the communities I belong to helped me to realize that my participation is enriched when I consider two things:
What's my goal for being a part of each community?
How do I uniquely contribute to each community?
The Power of Connection
This informal self-audit also helped me to consider the time and resources I'm spending with each community, along with identifying where gaps may exist. This may lead me to seek other groups that align with my current goals. For example, after a recent screenwriting workshop, a colleague and I discussed starting a lunchtime writers' group.
Would you benefit from a community self-audit? If so, you can start by exploring these five questions:
To what types of communities do you belong?
How active are you in these groups and what uniquely do you bring to each?
How useful are these communities to you and your goals?
What communities may you need to exit because they no longer meet your goals, or perhaps are no longer as vibrant as when you joined?
Finally, what types of communities would you like to seek, based on your current interests and goals?
I continue to remind my introverted self about the value and power of connection – and one of the best ways to create connections is through community building.
"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
During Friday's #MTtalk Twitter chat, we discussed community building in the workplace and why it is essential. Here are all the questions we asked, and some of the best responses:
Q1. How do you define community?
@CaptRajeshwar A group of like-minded people with a difference in opinion but with same vision, mission and goals.
@Midgie_MT A group of people who have a shared interest and who may support each other to pursue that interest or explore related topics together. Much like this #MTtalk community, that I feel privileged to be part of!
Q2. What makes a vibrant, healthy community?
@ZalaB_MT Many factors help co-create a good community: good leadership and CMGR (community manager) – this is/are the person(s) who know the ins and outs of a community and its members; engaged members that spread the word by WOM and help create more fans and followers.
@Yolande_MT In a vibrant and healthy community, members are mindful of how their actions might impact "the greater good" of the community. A healthy and vibrant community thinks of "us" and not just "me." It's also a place where people like being with one another – whether digital or in real life.
Q3. What types of communities do you currently participate in?
@SoniaH_MT The types of communities I currently participate in discuss business, communication, management, and leadership topics. Some others once included human resources, technology and marketing.
@brent_baggett04 I'm a part of a very big outdoor community, which involves hunting, fishing and the love for nature.
Q4. What value do you receive from the communities you belong to?
@SarahH_MT The main value I cherish is a feeling of belonging, closely followed by a sense of purpose. I also need to feel I add value and receive value, not necessarily in equal measure but it's important.
@Ganesh_Sabari I observe and analyze behavior in relation to age and exposure. This strengthens empathy and foresight in me.
Q5. How have you benefited from digital communities such as #MTtalk?
@CaptRajeshwar I used these chats for my training, motivation talks, management courses, blogs, and everyday life.
@harrisonia Digital communities have helped me realize that I'm not alone in the way I think or interpret certain topics. These communities have helped me become more mindful of my verbal and nonverbal communication, so I don't offend others.
@MikeB_MT During the pandemic, virtual communities were a lifeline for me. They still provide opportunities to collaborate, problem solve and encourage productivity. One digital community I joined during the pandemic and continue with gathers each week to practice our cartooning skills. (I'm not very good, but love it). It's a generous, smart and positive community.
Q6. What are the responsibilities of being a part of a community?
@Yolande_MT Offering your expertise while respecting the expertise of others is an important responsibility. Celebrate with people who did well; be able to just "be" with someone who goes through a tough time.
@brent_baggett04 The responsibilities come with caring and being a helping hand for someone who can use it more than you, showing someone they have somebody when they need it most.
Q7. What communities have you left or lost and why?
@ZalaB_MT It's time to say farewell when the purpose of the community no longer serves you. When the community quietly dies away and becomes stagnant; when you no longer feel connected, respected or have trust in the members of a community. When there's a breach of trust and respect. I left communities that were mere spam, promoting services and/or disseminating disinformation or hurtful content.
@Ganesh_Sabari Communities are strengthened when each participant puts others before oneself. Communities break and dissolve the moment selfish pursuits make their presence. The sole purpose of being in a community is to provide value to the huddle. If at all we find ourselves receiving benefits, it's a gift. Gifts are never sought. Gifts are always a pleasant surprise.
Q8. What are the benefits of community building in the workplace?
@Midgie_MT Benefits include an increased sense of connection amongst the team, increased commitment to the goals and even the creation of some friendships outside of work. The bonds created in that community help increase the effectiveness and efficiency within work.
@SarahH_MT Community building in the workplace is SUPER important. Benefits include creating a sense of belonging, support, human connection, a shared identity, shared purpose, the list goes on! Relatedness is so important to us all on a deep level.
Q9. What are the barriers to community building in the workplace?
@MikeB_MT Time and opportunity. It may take effort to build community in the workplace, but the benefits are many. It's worth the lift.
@Yolande_MT Sometimes, the biggest (and even the only) barrier is simply the lack of initiative. No one puts up their hand to do it and takes responsibility for it.
Q10. What are some tips to foster community building in the workplace?
@SoniaH_MT A tip to foster community building in the workplace is asking questions, listening genuinely to the answers, and showing interest in others.
@Ganesh_Sabari Keep the community objective precise, lucid and communicated. Be diplomatic in pruning negativity. Humans by nature consider finding fault in the existing system as one's merit.
Building community at work helps foster new relationships in unexpected ways. Regardless of age, everyone can learn from someone else.
Next time on #MTtalk, we're going to observe "Global Intergenerational Week" and discuss strategies to build bridges between generations and unify the workplace and community. In our Twitter poll this week, we'd like to know which intergenerational activity most interests you.
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