Thiagi Group

Better Connections

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20 - 302 - 100 Medium
We build a stronger relationship with people when we see them as human beings with whom we share similarities in terms of family and life situations. It is very difficult to form strong relationships with people about whom we know very little. We feel more connected to “full” people. For example, take John, the accountant. If I think of John as an accountant, I might put him into a box of what I think I know about accountants. I might not feel connected to accountants and will treat him accordingly. But when I think of John as a keen mountain climber and outdoor adventurer with two children, one of whom is graduating from university next month, then John becomes human to me, and I can feel connected to him.


To create a short memorable experience in which the participants understand the value of sharing non-work related information in a conversation to build a stronger relationship.





    1. Instruct the participants to pair up with someone in the room whom they know the least well.
    2. On the Connection Rating Scale, in the Before line, ask each participant to circle a number that reflects how connected they feel to the other person at the moment. Give the following examples:
      • A “1” would be how connected they feel about a man from whom they bought a newspaper that morning for the first time. They know nothing about him except that he was selling newspapers that morning at that spot.
      • A “9” score could be for a spouse of 20 years. (Not a “10” because sometimes spouses do unexpected things!)
      • A “5” score could be a work colleague who I know to be married with children but I do not know the spouse's name or the children's names, ages, and genders.
    3. Tell the participants that when you tell them to begin, they should do the following:
      • a. They will take turns to describe to the other person a close family member whom they love very much: someone who is very special to them, someone who they know intimately (such as a parent, a spouse, or a child). They should give as much detail as they can about this family member.
      • b. The other person should listen carefully, ask questions if they want to, while their partner shares a description of someone he or she loves very much.
      • c. After 3 minutes you will blow a whistle. The partners will swap their roles: The other person will take the opportunity to talk about his or her close family member.
    4. Ask the partners to quickly decide who is going to go first.
    5. Start the exercise.
    6. After 3 minutes, blow a whistle and ask the participants to exchange their roles.
    7. After 3 minutes, blow the whistle again to end the discussion.
    8. Instruct the participants to circle a number in the After line of the Connection Rating Scale to reflect how connected they now feel to the other person.
    9. Ask the participants to raise their hands if—
      • The number circled in the After line is lower than the number circled in the Before line. (They feel less connected with their partner after the discussion.)
      • The number circled in the After line is exactly the same as the number circled in the Before line. (The discussion made no difference to how connected they feel toward their partner.)

    It is highly unlikely that any participant would raise their hand in response to either of these questions. This proves that the participants feel more connected to their partner just after a 6-minute conversation.


    Conduct a discussion around the following questions:

    • Why do most people rate a higher number in the After line compared with the Before line?
    • Would we have had the same results if the conversation was about a big problem at work?
    • What emotions, if any, did you feel while you were listening to your partner?
    • What emotions, if any, did you feel while you were talking to your partner?
    • What relevance does this exercise have to our workplaces?
    • How do you start a conversation with a stranger?
    • What are the safe topics for conversations with a stranger?
    • What are some unsafe topics for conversations with a stranger?


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