We also need people to grow us in our adaptive expertise so that our competencies can be put to the best possible use in new situations. In this way, we need to be supported to respond to change in lives constructively, even when we find such change personally and professionally difficult.
It’s important for us to have people around us who can help us to build the rapport that creates team and with whom we can create a relationship of trust and reliability. We also need people with whom we can have a laugh and let off some steam when the time is right – not every conversation and connection needs to be intense and focused. Relaxing together is, of course, just as important as stretching each other’s capacity and responding to a time of adversity.
What we need to realise is that these people who we need are also us. We all need to build the relational capacity that helps us to recognise and manage our own and other people’s emotions. We all need to develop an ever-expanding repertoire of skills in making and sustaining healthy connections with people so that we can learn, live, lead and work together. We all need to increase our understanding as to how we might direct, motivate, influence and inspire others so that we can look after them, bring the best out of them, and achieve the goals of the team and the organisation to which we all belong in a manner that is ethically sound and socially responsible.
We humans are, by and large, social beings. We are meant to be in the company of others for significant periods of time. Each one of us has a part to play in how well we relate to each other, how we forge a common purpose and build the culture of people, place and practice.
Formal training in relationality is usually of benefit to most of us periodically, particularly when it homes in on the specific skills we need to apply in the immediate context of our lives. Sometimes this will come from depth studies of whole areas of connection, such as conflict resolution, while at other times it’s about the little things we do, the micro-skills and relational gestures that invite people into conversation and make them feel respected, valued and validated. While we can all gain from brushing up on our relationship techniques in both professional and personal settings, we also learn much from our informal day-to-day learning that we undertake when we work and live alongside others, we observe the impact of what occurs and model what we do from someone else.
These relational skills can and should be learned over time. For some, they will come much more naturally, while others will really need to work hard to develop confidence. Some of us are more outgoing while others are shy. Some enjoy and gain energy from their interactions from others, while others need times of solitude to recharge and refresh. As ever the possibilities of how we can learn when we need to get together, what we need to do when we do, and how we can connect in between times are defined by the diversity of people, their personalities and their needs. The Pathway to Excellence has questions that we can all share, and answers that are personal, especially when it comes to that most basic and most significant question of relationality: how we can we listen to each other so that we might be heard better?
We can contemplate our understanding of our Relational Skills through considering the following questions:
- Do I reflect on my relational skills, and am I becoming aware of what that I need to do to get along and to be effective in my relationships with others?
- Do I strive to be trustworthy, responsible and collegial in my relationships with others?
- Am I empathetic and know how to put other people at their ease?
- Do I do my part to help diffuse the situation, resolve the conflict and get everyone back on track when tensions or difficulties arise?
- Do I ask those whom I respect and admire what they consider to be the important relational skills for success?