“Relationships matter, not only in our personal life but also in our professional life.”

Expatriate business workers chat after office hour inside Two IFC, the territory's highest building at Hong Kong's financial business district July 13, 2009.

Image: REUTERS/Bobby Yip
“Relationships matter, not only in our personal life but also in our professional life.”

By Paolo Gallo, Chief Human Resources Officer, World Economic Forum

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Let’s start with a question. If today were the last day of your life, what would be your biggest regret? Let me help you with a few possible answers:

A) I wish I had written/answered more emails.

B) I wish I had bought shares in Google.

C) I wish I had got that promotion.

D) I wish I had spent more time with the people I love.

If you answered A, please stop reading and go back to your email. If you answered B or C, there’s still time to net the next winning investment or promotion. Or maybe not. But I suspect you answered D, correct?

The point is that we all know what is important but – ironically – we tend to do the opposite. We are prisoners of cheerfully miserable cognitive dissonance. Relationships matter, not only in our personal life but also in our professional life.

The way we define success is broken. As I explored in an earlier post, by mindlessly taking part in the rat race, we became so self-absorbed and busy trying to win this race that we forget that even by winning it, we will still remain rats.

Image: REUTERS/Samrang Pring

The first tool to rethinking success is to review the value of relationships.

Harvard began a study in the period from 1939 to 1944 to understand what made factors made people happy, healthy and long-lived.

In this study, several generations of researchers followed, year after year, the lives of 724 men born and raised in Boston, 60 of whom are still alive, asking them questions about their work, family and health; listening to their families and observing how their life has evolved over 75 years.

The conclusion of this study provides us with insights that are simultaneously surprising and obvious. What makes us happy is the lasting and positive relationships with the people around us, people we love and respect. Living in a negative or toxic relationship has deleterious effects on our health, personal happiness and life expectancy.

Positive relationships with others, based on trust, respect and love not only lengthen our lives and make us happier, but also protect us from diseases. Knowing that we can count on those who love us – even if we disagree with them – generates inner security, a feeling that we are not alone on this planet.

Lessons on teamwork from Arctic survival

So what does this mean for the professional sphere, and the way we judge whether we are leading successful careers? The people around us help us to make better decisions and we can help them as well. Let us assume, for example, that we are lost in May somewhere near the Arctic, we have 20 objects with us – some food, a flashlight, a butane lighter, plastic bags – but we have to pick only a few to survive. Which ones do we choose?

I have facilitated this exercise many times with many teams, and the result is always that decisions taken individually will never be as good decisions taken as a group. The life-saving supplies are only ever correctly assembled when a range of views is taken into account. By the way, if you have chosen – as I did – the flashlight, bad luck. The right choice would be the butane lighter as it allows you o start a fire and can be used as a rescue signal.

Most decisions at work won’t have an immediate life or death impact, thankfully – but working with people in a positive way can have a significant impact on our health and happiness. Feedback from colleagues is essential to grow, to learn and to take advantage of new opportunities.

Changing the way we think of networking

When we work, we spend at least 40 hours per week with other people. Of course, our colleagues are not our companions in every sphere of our lives (even if many marry colleagues they met at work, myself included). But positive relationships at work, based on respect, cooperation and trust, are essential to our happiness. We have to internalize the idea that “networking” does not work when we engage with people only when we “need” something from them: we need to be constant givers of our time, attention, respect and help.

We are well aware of the people who lost their serenity working in a toxic workplace, permeated by negative energy. While at times we cannot dramatically change what happens in our offices, we can change the way we relate to it. Alternatively we can sing the song by the Clash – “Should I stay or should I go?” -pause and reflect on the question. Once I resigned from a role and felt as if I was leaving Chernobyl behind me.

Knowing that what really matters starts from the quality of the relationships we have with those around us, both in our personal and professional lives, allows us to see the people around us not as enemies or as mere instruments to our own success, but as allies in our journey. We are human beings, not “human resources”. So, invite your colleague for a coffee – or just go back to the next email.

Author: Paolo Gallo, Chief Human Resources Officer, World Economic Forum. Gallo joined the Forum in April 2014 as Senior Director, Human Resources. His appointment is the latest chapter in a career in leadership, human resources and international finance that spans 70 countries. Prior to joining the Forum, Gallo was Director of Human Resources at EBRD in London; before that, a Senior Adviser on organizational and leadership development at the World Bank in Washington DC, providing advice on corporate restructuring and leadership to the bank’s external clients. For three years before that, was the World Bank’s Director of Performance and Development, where he conceived and delivered a leadership development programme to more than 1,100 managers and senior managers across the organization


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Jorn Jakob Albert Boor. (36) Ik heb mijn leven lang menselijke interactie, tegenstellingen en tegenstrijdigheden geobserveerd en hieruit een conclusie getrokken. Theorie, ervaring en ondersteuning vanuit de vele verscheidene vriendschappen en gebeurtenissen hebben het mogelijk gemaakt tot de kern van het menselijk bestaan en evolutie van het bewustzijn op individueel en collectieve zingeving en progressie. De verschillende specialisaties, hierarchische levels van behoeften (egoisme) en non verbale en verbale intentie's en communicatie eigenschappen (egocentrisch) zijn een fundamentele doelstelling en persoonlijke ontwikkeling die ik graag wil delen en ten dienste wil stellen zodat het de creatie en evolutie van ons natuurlijke zijnsvorm transcends in het geestelijke/spirituele zijnsvorm in ons aller belang en zoals het gedetaileerd in allerlei verscheidene historische takken van sport is benoemd en vastgelegd op feiten en profetisch onderbouwde geschriften. wijsheden en legacies. Defragmentatie van deze inzet, inzichten, kennis en opofferingen ten behoeve van ons aller belang en bestaansrecht. Via het informeren en verzamelen van kennis verwacht ik de chaos en verbroken connectie's weer samen te brengen en hiermee de macht over vrede, begrip, diversiteit en samenwerkings verbanden naar een resonerende en gebalanceerde bestaansrechtelijke fundering terug te brengen en mijzelf en mijn service van toegevoegde waarde te laten zijn. Vanuit mijn eigen ervarings deskundigheid en relatieve overzichten op globaal niveau. Creativiteit. Spontaniteit en Probleemoplossende eigenschappen en de bij behorende communicatieve vaardigheden zouden het varkentje moeten wassen. UNESCO onderschrijft een groot deel van de conclusie en bestaansrecht van deze theorie/evolutie model en symboliek voortgebracht via de grootheden en culturen en eerder bestaansvormen uit het verleden. Dit is de finishing touch en de start van een nieuw begin met rust. vrede en creatieve ontwikkelingen en rechtvaardige basis berustende op eenwording en ware identiteit van de mensheid. De overwinning welke onze wederzijdse verantwoordelijkheid in alle facetten van het bestaan vrijheid en zijn bevierd zal worden! # Het zal geschieden. # Mijn thuis is waar liefde zegeviert # Huis van Jakob / Rechtvaardigheid # Jakob 's Ladder / Vigilant. .. http://jornboor.blogspot.nl https://jakobinfo.wordpress.com @Jakob_EGO "Oil To The Fire Submitted In Respect For The Sacred Dance On Infinity. "

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