Renowned evolutionary psychologist, Professor Robin Dunbar, returns with a captivating second episode of Wired to Socialize. In this thought-provoking series, Dunbar, together with Covve’s CEO, Yiannis Gavrielides, explores the science behind networking, the art of socializing, and dive deeper into the concept known as Dunbar’s Number. With over 25 years of research, Professor Dunbar highlights how singing, dancing, and laughter can foster deep connections and create a sense of community.
In the previous episode, Yiannis Gavrielides and Professor Dunbar delved into the remarkable story of SABMiller, where a pub was ingeniously employed to facilitate employee socialization, trust-building, and relationship forging. However, Professor Dunbar acknowledges that one solution cannot fit all situations. Suppose you find yourself in a country where alcohol consumption is prohibited. In that case, an alternative option awaits – the humble coffee house. The key is to create a space where people can come together and socialize openly, transcending barriers and fostering a sense of community.
According to Professor Dunbar, the theater, particularly comedy shows, serves as an incredible example of how individuals arrive as individuals and depart as a united community, having shared a delightful experience together. Laughter unites us and breaks down the walls that often separate us. Similarly, singing holds tremendous potential in forging a deep sense of belonging. As long as you have a voice, you can sing, and just an hour of community singing can create an unshakeable bond among participants.
In a compelling anecdote, Professor Dunbar shares the story of his South African co-author, who, in the aftermath of apartheid, faced a daunting challenge. Half of their government department consisted of employees who had previously enforced apartheid, while the other half hailed from the revolutionary party. To bridge the divide and foster collaboration, they initiated a choir. The transformation was extraordinary as uniforms, and choir competitions worked as catalysts, breaking the ice and dissolving tensions. Singing together nurtured a genuine sense of community and enabled cooperation to flourish.
Professor Dunbar emphasizes the importance of having an individual who willingly and enthusiastically takes the lead in bringing people together. The key lies in finding simple, low-barrier activities that appeal to the majority. By identifying the right communal activity, tailored to your organization’s needs, and engineering it to fit modern busy lives, you can unleash the power of social bonding and combat the pandemic of loneliness that plagues young professionals who have landed their first job in a big city.
The consequences of loneliness and disengagement in the workplace can be devastating, leading to a spiral of depression and reduced productivity. Professor Dunbar shares that engaging in activities that trigger endorphin release, such as laughter, singing, dancing, and watching plays, stimulates the immune system. This not only benefits mental health but also provides physical advantages, guarding against diseases and granting individuals more time to be productive. It’s a win-win scenario for businesses – an engaged workforce translates to increased productivity and a thriving community.
Updated on 17 Jul 2023.