How to use familiarity to improve organizational performance

If a tree falls in the Forest…

Most managers I know are seeking ways to get just a little more productivity and performance from their teams. The relationships within their teams can have an impact.

I was inspired recently by a video on YouTube of Alan Watts. His phrase. “if a tree falls in the forest and you are not there, it does not make a sound,” struck me in a way it had not before. Sound is a vibration. Unless there is an ear there to react in relation to the vibration there is no sound. He was getting to the point that we are all “Being” in relationship to others. And in fact, we “Are” in relation to each other.

I have danced with this idea for years. It is why I think communication is so important. It is how we get into relationship with each other. It is how we learn about each other and ourselves. For my own self, conversation is how I get to explore new ideas. I get to test them in the relationship with others. Do the ideas, land? Do they influence the other? Do they spark pushback? What is the pushback? Is it valid? Is it not?

We often think that we communicate our ideas when we utter the words, or when we press send. But, it is not communication until we get the response. This is where many communication departments fail. They craft a great message and they send it and think they are done. But until individuals and organizations respond, there has been no effect to communication. Hence, there has been no communication just a broadcast.

So, if communication happens in relation to each other, can we enhance our communications by strengthening our relationship. The science says yes. Teams that are familiar with each other perform better. They are familiar in two ways. One is they are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each other so that they can adjust to optimize the team performance. And this was the interesting part. When they were familiar with each other as humans, as individuals; their values, their likes and dislikes, their aspirations it further enhanced performance.

I have started asking my workshop participants and clients to share with each other the answer to questions like:

  • “If I had a superpower what would it be and why”?
  • “Where have I had a failure in my business”?
  • “What trait in me would I not want to see replicated in my team, my family or my organization”?

These questions are all a little vulnerable and they increase the intimacy of the team. And one of the key components in the Trust Equation© is intimacy. That was a surprise to me. Intimacy is the multiplier in the equation. It has a large impact on trust. And teams that trust each other get more done.

What can you do to improve intimacy and familiarity on your teams?


If you would like to learn more about how you can get more productivity and performance for your teams, let’s have a conversation about The Three Conversations For Managerial and Leadership Success © You can reach me at

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