A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Common Ground

“Each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction.”

Gretchen Rubin


Similarities, Commonalities, Likeness, Sameness, Common Ground

That’s what you need to bridge the gap between any two individuals.

If you look closely, you can see the bridge being built.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Justin Timberlake concert in St. Paul Minnesota. It was his 20/20 Experience World Tour and from what I can gather, there were about 20,000 fans joining me, my friend and our two daughters. We arrived early at the venue, leaving plenty of time for our girls to build their excitement and plenty of time for me to watch people, observe behaviors, and be inspired by strangers.

It took less then 10 minutes to build bridges between me and others – not because I force relationships wherever I go but because there was common ground.  I and those around me shared a love for music, the appreciation of strong talent, or the desire to be a part of the energy of the crowd.

Leaders could learn a lot about bridging gaps and building teams by watching people’s behaviors during events like this. They’d see the easy conversations, the sparks of interest, the forgiveness of strangers, the not-so-common courtesies, etc.  They’d see that relationships are formed when similarities are found.

Why don’t you try it?


Find the common ground among your team.

Don’t cop out with the obvious ones like a project they are working on, or the fact they all work for you. Instead, find the personal ones or the ones that are driven by energy and interest.


  • What music do they like?
  • What is their favorite pizza?
  • Are they dog people or do they prefer stuffed animals or fish?
  • What is that they all like about the town they live in?
  • What opinions might they share on the new restaurant that opened down the street?
  • Who motivates or inspires them?
  • What books do they like to read?

When your team realizes what they have in common, they can be assured that there is always something to fall back on, regardless of how stressful or uncomfortable work situations may be.

Likewise, if they have no knowledge of their common ground, they will falter in a sea of awkwardness…I call it “social stagnancy”…when work or the environment becomes problematic.

Leaders can move their teams beyond social stagnancy by facilitating and encouraging their teams to find common ground.  Once team members start bridging those gaps, they are likely to perform better, support each other, step up more often to help, focus on results, etc.

Just try itif you don’t want to ask questions, start making references about what one team member has in common with another.Slide1

See if it doesn’t spark an interest and create a conversation.


Trust me, before long, the common ground you help identify will have turned itself into a bridge.




Common GroundCommunicationsEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsHuman ResourcesLeadershipPerformance ManagementSatisfactionSimilaritiesTeamworkWorkforce Satisfaction

Heather Kinzie • February 18, 2014

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