Word Of the Week #575: Belonging

August 12, 2015 by · 4 Comments 

Belonging – acceptance as a natural member or part.

Do you feel accepted and part of a team at work? Do you feel that everyone really cares about you? Do you feel a sense of connection to those you work with?

This week features the third of the “6 Needs to Thrive at Work” that Michael Lee Stallard featured in his book, “When workers thrive, companies do too.” And as Stallard says “they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

He writes, “The third need is to belong. Are you familiar with the 1980s television comedy “Cheers” which was described as a place where “everybody knows your name?”  When we feel like we belong to a group, we are more resilient to get through the inevitable difficult seasons in life. And let me tell you, EVERYONE has them. Sickness, death, job loss, divorce, depression, etc. are part of life. It’s the group of people we belong to who help us through those times because they care. (And they’re also the ones who will tell us when we have food on our chin or we are doing something that’s unwise.) They care enough to tell us what we need to hear and to be there for us when we need them.


Feeling like we belong is also necessary to cope with stress. If we feel unsupported, left out or lonely, we will be vulnerable in stressful work environments. Absent feeling connected to others we are more likely to experience anxiety and depression that often lead to addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug use, eating disorders, and/or addictions to sex and pornography. Each of these behaviors provides short-term relief from stress and anxiety but they gradually take over our lives, as more and more of the behavior is required to calm our nervous systems. This is a big problem today in America. We consume 50 percent of the global supply of prescription drugs for mood disorders even though we have only 4.5 percent of the world’s population.

Notice that the first three needs (respect, recognition, and belonging) are “relational needs.” When these needs are met, we feel connected to the people with whom we work.”

Randy Conley’s article titled, “Five Ways Leaders Help Others Belong, Not Just Fit In finishes by saying, “Creating a sense of belonging for people requires that leaders be engaged. It means investing time and energy to understand what’s going on with their people, their hopes and dreams, their fears and insecurities. Fostering belonging is about humanizing the workplace and creating a safe space where people can be vulnerable, real and authentic. The payoff of having engaged, committed, and fulfilled team members is worth the effort.”

This week’s focus is on belonging. Do you really care about the people that you work with? Are you willing to listen and “be there” when someone is going through a tough time? Are you willing to invest the time and energy that creates a sense of belonging?