Have you ever watched the body language and patterns of social interaction among your team members?

Recently, I read The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. In it, he describes some of his early research into highly performing teams and groups. I was struck by a list of characteristics he observed throughout the smallest moments of social connection in the highest-performing teams. 

Coyle writes, “I noticed a distinct pattern of interaction. The pattern was not in the big things but in little moments of social connection. These interactions were consistent whether the group was a military unit or a movie studio or an inner-city school.”

  • Close physical proximity, often in circles
  • Profuse amounts of eye contact
  • Physical touch (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs)
  • Lots of short, energetic exchanges (no long speeches)
  • High levels of mixing; everyone talks to everyone
  • Few interruptions
  • Lots of questions
  • Intensive, active listening
  • Humor, laughter
  • Small, attentive courtesies (thank-yous, opening doors, etc.)

Coyle reported that  “spending time inside these groups was almost physically addictive.”

As I think about the most high-performing teams I’ve worked with, I agree that I’ve seen many of these patterns.


  • Share this post with your team.
  • Discuss the list and what team members think about Coyle’s observations.
  • Suggest that each person observe how they and their colleagues interact in the normal workday. How do your team’s interactions compare with Coyle’s list?  
  • If you see very few of these patterns, explore why or why not.  Discuss what the team might do to interject more of these behaviors into everyday interactions.


Reach out if you would like my help in facilitating this type of discussion among your team.



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