Your relationships at work are vital. Each connection in your day leaves an indelible imprint, whether it’s a significant interaction with a team member or a brief encounter in the hallway.
Given the amount of time you spend at work, your relationships are bound to have an impact on you. In fact, new research indicates that the quality of these connections can determine your lifespan!
Recent studies suggest that each relationship at work is either life-giving or life-depleting.1 Like a healthy blood vessel connecting different parts of your body, a high-quality connection (HQC) is essential to transfer vital nutrients. High-quality relationships tend to be flexible, strong, and resilient. In a high-quality connection, you bring your full attention to the person you’re with. You can share your thoughts and feelings authentically without fear of negative consequences.
In contrast, low-quality connections leave damage in their wake. In low-quality connections, there is a little death or disease transferred in every interaction. One manager put it this way, “Corrosive connections are like black holes: they absorb all the light in the system and give nothing back in return.” 1 Eventually, these toxic relationships deplete life, inflicting an emotional and physiological toll on individuals at work.
The quality of relationships is critical to understanding why and how people thrive at work. New studies have identified the following long-term effects of relationships at work: 1
1. People with more positive connections at work had a lower allostatic load. This means that had a less damaging physiological response to work stress.
2. In high-quality connections, there was a release of oxytocin, which reduces anxiety.
3. High-quality connections reduced systolic blood pressure. One study evaluated people’s cardiovascular reactions to giving a 6-minute speech. For those that had high-quality connections present in the audience, blood pressure and heart rate was significantly lower.
4. Quality relationships resulted in a stronger immune system.
5. Higher quality connections were associated with a longer lifespan and lower risk of death.
The cumulative effects of good relationships at work are clearly life-sustaining. So positive leaders should be responsible for creating a work environment where high-quality connections can thrive. Practicing the 4 Pillars of Positive Leadership is good place to start!