« Play Well with Others: Develop Effective Work Relationships | Main | Looking for honesty in the workplace »

Bids---the fundamental unit of emotional communication

A bid is any single expression that says, “I want to feel connected to you.” It can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch. Bids happen in simple, mundane ways that we don’t recognize as very important. Relationships build and deepen with bids and positive responses. Trust builds.

The response to a bid can be positive or negative. People typically respond to another’s bid for connection in one of three ways.
Turning toward
Positive reaction to the bid.
A woman says she’d like to learn a new software program. A coworker asks about the program, adds his thoughts.

Turning against
Often described as argumentative or belligerent, involves sarcasm or ridicule. Hostility.
A woman says she’d like to learn a new software program. A coworker says, “The old one is just fine. Why in the world would you want to learn this new one?”

Turning away
Ignoring another’s bid or acting preoccupied. Indifference.
A woman says she’d like to learn a new software program. A coworker responds with something unrelated, “Do you know what time it is?” or the response is silence.

The research on bids and responses is from John Gottman, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and his colleagues. He founded what the media termed "The Love Lab". His research has focused on marital and family relationships. Gottman’s most recent book ‘The Relationship Cure: A Five-Step Guide for Building Better Connections with Family, Friends, and Lovers’ has many examples of relationships and emotional communication in the workplace.

An example from the book

“What are you doing for lunch today?”
“Lunch? Who’s got time for that?”
“Maybe some other time, then.”
“Yeah, some other time.”

“What are you doing for lunch today?”
“I wish I had time for lunch. I’ve got to finish this report. What are you up to?”
“I brought a sandwich. I thought I’d sit outside. But I have to go by the deli for a Coke. Want me to bring something back for you?”
“That would be nice. Can you get me a ham on rye and a Coke?”
“Sure thing.”

The researchers found people quickly loose heart when their bids are greeted by indifference or hostility. The bids stop. Civility would be turning toward another. Incivility would be argumentative, sarcasm, hostility, ignoring.

The book is fascinating, absolutely fascinating
If you too want to be more aware of how you respond to bids, read the book. (And of course, you’ll find yourself watching how others respond to your emotional bids.)


PERFECT! I needed this - it puts into words something I have felt for a long time.

I am ordering this book.

And Happy Valentine's Day to all!

We ALL need to order and read this book. The reactions people give to "bids" from another should involve common courtesy. Using ridicule, sarcasm, silence, or acting indifferent is really rude when someone is making a "bid". A caring attitude toward each other would sure help us to be more civil. Hope your Valentine Day is special...like all of you are!