Work Traits


Belongingness is especially beneficial in situations and positions where there’s a lot of emphasis placed on relationships, such as selling, coaching, and social media.
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What is belongingness?

Belongingness means if you were asked about the most important element of any workplace, you’d be quick to say, “The people!”

You place a lot of importance on connection and bonding, and you value relationships above almost everything else. When you need to influence another person’s perspectives and decisions, you do so through connecting with them—rather than doling out instructions. You’re skilled at nurturing and sustaining meaningful connections. 

On your team, you’re known as the people person, but some team members might think that you prioritize social interactions over other task-oriented activities. That can be somewhat frustrating to people who prefer to stay heads down in their work.

We call it: Affiliation

Your level of energy for bonding, belonging, and building personal relationships at work.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

Maya Angelou

Leaders who value belongingness

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth

When it comes to the importance of teamwork and belongingness, you won’t find many industries who value them as much as sports. 

While legendary American professional baseball player, Babe Ruth, did voice some strong opinions throughout his career, he also made it evident that belonging to a team and broader community was important to him. 

He even reportedly pushed himself to play through an awful strain of the flu so as to not disappoint eager fans. He cared deeply about the relationships he shared with his teammates and his supporters.

Marissa Mayer

As the former president and CEO of Yahoo!, Mayer knows a thing or two about what it takes to thrive in business. But, her secret to success might surprise some people: social connection.

In fact, Mayer caught some heat when she made a decision that Yahoo! employees needed to reduce their telecommuting and work in the office. She had hoped that the increased time together in a shared space would lead to a more connected company culture with more opportunities for bonding and relationship-building.

Marissa Mayer
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Vince Lombardi

It makes sense that there’d be yet another sports figure on this list. Vince Lombardi, former professional football coach, believed strongly that positive relationships generated impressive results.

Lombardi obviously cared for all of his players, and he expected them to care for one another as well. He believed the relationships they shared with one another would lead to their success. “The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling these guys have for each other,” he was quoted as saying.

The benefits of belongingness

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Emotional intelligence

When you place a high priority on relationships, you’re naturally more in tune with the way other people are feeling.

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Personal connection

Relationships require commitment and energy, and your desire to maintain strong bonds with the people you work with leads to close relationships and a positive team culture.

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When you invest so greatly in the people you work with and get to know them on a professional and personal level, they’re naturally more inclined to trust you.

The blind spots of belongingness

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If you work with people who are more task-oriented, your frequent attention to relationships and social interactions can make it harder to get the important work done if taken to an extreme.

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Tough decisions

Because belonging is so important to you, you might struggle to make difficult or unpopular decisions because you don’t want to risk your close relationships.

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Similarly to the above, you might resist voicing your own opinion on important subjects, for fear of rocking the boat on your team.

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How to boost belongingness

1) Make time for social interactions.

When your to-do list is neverending, it can be tough to dedicate time and energy to your social relationships.

You need to plan time for this like you would anything else. Even something as simple as dedicating five minutes at the beginning or end of meetings for personal catch ups can help you forge more solid bonds at work.

2) Offer praise and recognition.

We all respond positively to vocal appreciation—and it’s natural to like people who like us. So, the next time you think your colleague did an excellent job with a task, let them know.

These seemingly small efforts can help to solidify your relationships and contribute to a more positive team atmosphere. 

3) Ask for feedback.

If your natural inclination is to keep your head down and stay zoned in on your independent work, prioritizing relationships can feel strange.

Take a small step in the right direction by asking for a colleague’s insights or input on the task you’re working on. You’ll show that you value their opinions, and also demonstrate that you’re open to more collaboration and a sense of belonging.

4) Get out of your comfort zone.

Again, if you’re used to popping in your earbuds and tuning out the world, it’s time to show your team that you care about your relationships with them.

Do this by getting out of your comfort zone. Attend that happy hour that you’d typically skip. Volunteer for that social club or committee at work. Invite a coworker to lunch, rather than eating at your desk. Those are all big steps in the right direction.

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