Merge's Blog

Strengthen social bonds at work by using music

Strengthen social bondsBack in July, music therapist and my professional colleague Jennifer Buchanan guested on the blog with a post on boosting productivity at the office by using music.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about, I was delighted to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about how music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and what leaders could learn that would benefit their workplaces.  Her post was so well-received that I was thrilled that she agreed to contribute a second post to the blog.  Her contribution today is about music can be used to strengthen social bonds at work.  And as leaders, we know how important it is to nurture and strengthen social bonds between employees – it leads to increased morale, higher productivity and less turnover.

Music: the culture connection that can strengthen social bonds

There is no doubt that music plays a role in our wellbeing. But researchers now suggest that music also plays a significant role in strengthening social bonds. In a 2013 review of the research on music, music psychologist Stefan Koelsch described several ways music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by affecting systems involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation. Here are some ways music can strengthen social bonds at work and hopefully get us back on track:

  1. Music increases contact, coordination, and cooperation with others. According to researchers, when we try to synch with others musically we tend to feel more connected and uplifted towards those people.
  2. Music gives us an oxytocin boost. Researchers have also found that listening to music releases oxytocin – but not just any music. It seems it is your preferred music that soothes you the most.
  3. Music strengthens our “theory of mind”. Time and time again music has been shown to activate many areas of the brain, including the areas that help us understand what others are thinking and feeling, and to predict how they might behave.
  4. Music increases cultural cohesion. Music can certainly enhance feelings of connection and social creativity, both of which are important for ensuring workplace resilience and cultural sensitivity.

Although music isn’t the only answer it is definitely one pathway to feeling more connected to self and others.

Please share your perspectives

Well, what do you think?  Have you observed first-hand the value of music at work, and more specifically in strengthening social bonds between co-workers?  Please share your experiences.  This is not our usual topic on the blog, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jennifer Buchanan MBA, MTA is Past President of the Canadian Association for Music Therapists, Speaker, and Author of the highly acclaimed book Tune In: use music intentionally to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health.  Reach her at www.jenniferbuchanan.ca

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