Applying Design Thinking Strategies to Increase Human Connection

One of the questions I always ask my clients, is whether they view their professional life as a physical endeavor.

In response, a significant majority of my clients answer that apart from whatever amount of time they might be lucky enough to carve out for a workout, their roles and responsibilities are mostly non-physical.

This could not be farther from the truth. As human beings, 100% of our experiences have a physical component. Watching TV has a physical component; walking into a building, entering a room, having a conversation (whether in-person or over the phone/via skype) all have important physical components.

If we are ignoring the physical in these seemingly, ‘non-physical’ experiences, how much are we leaving up to chance and engrained habit? An exercise I love doing with my clients, is what I call a ‘physicality map’.

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Applying a traditional design thinking approach, identify where your day begins, and from there, map out every moment of physical connection both with yourself, and with others around you. I guarantee you will find two things:

  • The moment you begin your day does not start the second you sit down at your desk. There is an entire experience that leads up to this moment and the way you move through these experiences can compound in either positive, or very negative ways.

  • There is a rich canvas of opportunity to increase human connectivity and relationship building throughout your day. How many of us are guilty of charging into an office building, passing by the hundreds of other individuals without giving even a second’s pause to say good morning to the barista, security guard, or your closest colleagues? These may seem like insignificant moments, but they are the bread and butter of building and maintaining trusting and authentic relationships which are essential to sustaining businesses.

It might seem like these opportunities will take up more of the time you don’t feel you have. This is not necessarily true.

Folding in some of my professional ballet dancer mindset, although the true performance happens on stage, the muscle memory of posture and poise exist beyond the scenes. By practicing intentional body language, eye contact, open postures consistently throughout your day, you will find that eventually, your body will naturally adopt a new physical cadence. In other words, with the right amount of awareness and practice, you will find that old, automated habits, begin to be replaced by intentional ones. These new habits can allow for a more active and energized mindset, as well as increased opportunities to connect with our colleagues and our clients.

As technology continues to pull our attention away from ourselves and one another, it is imperative that we practice physical awareness, particularly in professional settings. Whether you like it or not, our physical experiences carry an important weight in our lives. Let’s become attuned to what our current baseline is, and consciously choose how we want to show up and engage with our lives.

Rachel Cossar