Re-enchantment of the Workplace:  Six Ways to Create a More Enchanting Office Environment

by Tom Larkin and Jack Truitt

"I have plenty of machinery around me; what I really need is a more enchanting world in which to live and work." —Thomas Moore

Most everyone knows that feeling of getting lost in a personal project or hobby so intently that you don't even notice the hours go by. Or, being a part of a team where everyone and everything seems to click. Or, simply waking up for work and feeling you're truly excited about going to the office. One word that might encompass all of these feelings is "enchantment."

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, enchantment is defined as "a feeling of being attracted by something interesting" or "a quality that attracts and holds your attention."

Feeling engaged, excited, and connected to the work you do and the people you do it with are key qualities in any workplace. And, they can be found at the heart of any successful company.

So, how do you build and sustain a more enchanting workplace? Below are six ways to make that dream a reality:

1. Start with Simple Yet Powerful Changes
Like elsewhere in life, the smallest and simplest of changes can create the biggest impact in a workplace. The good news is that many of the key elements are in your control:

  • Your Body Language
  • How do you present yourself? What do you think others would say about you? How do you look when you walk through the door, or at your desk, or in a meeting? Conscious changes in how you carry yourself can work subconscious and substantial wonders.

  • Your Knowledge
  • Do you know what's important for your company? Have you considered what you can to do to make a positive impact every day? How can you learn what your coworkers are doing, and how you can help?

  • Your Actions
  • So often we find ourselves falling into a daily routine or just going through the motions. We rarely ask ourselves, what we're doing, why we're doing it and how others might feel about it.

Answering these questions and implementing these changes will help create a more engaged work environment. And most likely, it will be a more productive one as well.

2. Encourage Open Communication
As Thomas Moore said in his book, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, "We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk."

The person in the cubicle next to you doesn't need to be your "best friend." However, you can always be courteous and responsive, and treat him/her with respect, even if you don't have the same opinions or aspirations.

3. Know Thyself and Treat Others with Respect
You can start by learning your communication style, if you don't know it already. There are several options today, such as Briggs-Meyers and the DISC profiles, which can provide insightful and sometimes eye-opening feedback about yourself.

Many employees today can tell you their communication style based on these instruments, but how many can name the style of their manager or coworkers? Knowing your own style of communication is only half of the solution. 

When you know how to talk to someone, and know how to listen, both parties benefit from more effective communication.

To demonstrate and earn respect, work on interpersonal skills that build trust. Ask questions, be an active listener, and be ready to give a thorough and genuine explanation to any questions others might have.

4. Develop Your Own and Your Associates' Ability to Express Genuine Empathy
‘Empathy training' is becoming more prevalent in American companies' management development curriculum…and for good reason. Empathy has proven to be good for the bottom line.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "empathetic companies generate 50% more net income per employee than the most indifferent ones." The author noted:"If busyness is an emotional complex, then it's likely that when we are busiest, we are doing least. We can be extremely active without being busy, and busy without accomplishing anything. We may be feverishly engaged in some task and yet not truly focused on the matter at hand." 

5. Aim to Achieve ‘Real' Conversation; Pay Attention to your Choices
What characterizes a real call? One thing is responsiveness. Consider saying something that indicates uniqueness, clarity and/or action. It can be as simple as "I appreciate your patience during this brief delay” or "I'm going to get back to you by 5:00 with a resolution or a status report; will that be ok with you?" A personal "I” and an accountability ring of a real, genuine conversation that expresses understanding and connection will set you apart from others.

Pay attention to and take note of what you're actually doing in your day-to-day work. If you're in meetings throughout the day, measure how much time was productive, and explore how to reduce time you found to be unproductive. Stay in the moment so you can really listen to what's going on in that discussion. Keep your eyes focused on the other person, and paraphrase and clarify what you hear and see. 

We also suggest that you pay attention to your customer conversations. What makes them real is when you respond to both stated and unstated messages. For example, "I'll help you with that right now, Ms. Jonas, as I know you've been on hold” is a very different message than "account number please." On phone calls, be sure to refer to each caller by his/her name and commit to helping early in the call. Also, when you empathize, you demonstrate not only professionalism, but also profitable listening skills.
6. Consider the Challenge of Remaining Curious
Curiosity is at the core of enchantment, and at the core of every other strategy mentioned here. If you find yourself in a rut, ask yourself questions. If you're disillusioned with projects or meetings, ask yourself why. What makes them so unattractive? What's causing me so much angst about it? What would it take for me to be more curious or interested in this project?

In your interactions with coworkers, strive to be curious and interested. A curious employee is more attuned to his work, his coworkers, and what is hindering that feeling of enchantment.

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." —Plutarch, Greek philosopher, biographer, essayist

Tom Larkin is president, CEO and co-owner of Communico Ltd. and has more than thirty years of experience as a consultant, coach, facilitator and business owner. He is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC ®  and is also a part-time professor at Fairfield University.

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