Leaders of distributed teams try to foster social connection with virtual team building initiatives such as Friday Happy Hours, Escape Rooms, Slack threads for pet photos, and online board games. These are nice, but they only scratch the surface on cultivating the human connection that builds meaningful and trusting relationships. They fail to give individuals the experience of revealing their authentic self and feeling seen.
Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code, gives evidence that vulnerability helps strengthen teams by improving closeness, cooperation, and trust. Leaders that dare to accept the invitation to embrace vulnerability might be interested in a practical solution for fostering virtual human connection: Social Connection Games.
Social Connection Games (AKA “Authentic Relating Games”) are a facilitated practice that intentionally creates authentic, safe, and personal conversations that allow participants to experience their common humanness and feel seen.
What’s more, Social Connection Games help participants boost self awareness, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, communication skills, listening skills, sense of belonging, empathy, and relational investment in their colleagues.
You can register for a free monthly Social Connection Games Demonstration to experience these games for yourself.
Here are three DIY ideas for creating more connection with your remote team:
- Level up your next virtual happy hour - At your next Virtual Happy Hour over Zoom, use breakout rooms to put people into groups of three. Instruct them to choose one person to be the Sharer and two people to be the Questioners. The Questioners ask the Sharer non-work related questions based on their curiosity for 5 minutes. During this time, the Sharer is only allowed to pass or answer questions, not ask questions back. After time is up, the Questioners both share feedback about what it was like to listen (example: what stood out the most, what resonated with them, feelings that came up, things they’re still curious about, what they understood most about the Sharer, etc). Then switch the Sharer and start again. This game helps create greater familiarity and curiosity among the team. It also sends a subtle signal that it’s ok to ask colleagues questions about their personal life.
- Level up your next all-hands meeting - Spend five minutes at the beginning to pair people up in breakout rooms to each share for 2-minutes with the sentence starter “my brain is currently being occupied by...” This helps cultivate presence and a small dose of connection at the beginning of a meeting. Encourage people to share work or personal life stuff that’s going on. If you’re introducing this for the first time, a demonstration will help. This demonstration is a chance for you to model the vulnerability that is welcome on your team, and gives others a chance to humanize their leader.
- Level up your next 1:1 check in meetings - In your next 1:1 check-in meeting with a team member, get curious about their personal life - their personal and professional dreams, their challenges at home, what they are really good at, what they are afraid of, etc. And don’t forget to reveal this stuff about yourself as well. This back and forth creates a vulnerability loop that establishes deeper trust and openness in your relationship.
At Social Architect, we have modified many of the 150+ original games to be work and Zoom friendly. Our senior facilitators have led Authentic Relating Games on COnnect, an online membership platform that has refined the art of creating virtual human connection since 2015. We know from experience that these games are powerful for giving people the structure and safety to reveal their authentic selves and feel seen.
Stop wasting valuable social time on team building activities that don’t give team members a chance to reveal their authentic selves and feel seen. Start creating safe, authentic, and personal conversations to reduce loneliness and increase social connectivity. Safely connected teams are happier, more productive, and stick around longer.