Whether we tend to be introverted or extroverted, our health, happiness and even longevity, may depend largely on our relationships. From the moment of birth, we have to interact with other people, and how we do so can impact our wellness lifestyle for the extent of our lifetime.
Relationships come in many forms—co-workers, family, inner circle of friends, wider reach of friends, acquaintances, teams both in sports and entrepreneurial endeavors, pets, co- volunteers, and so on. Each type of relationship can improve our quality of life if we approach it in a mindful way.
How relationships work often mirror the theories behind the psychology of team building. Relationships work best when the people involved have their basic and deeper needs fulfilled, just as team members function best when each person’s professional needs are fulfilled.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs include physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-actualization.1 Depending on the type of relationship, fulfilling some or all of these needs is key to forming, developing and keeping positive connections. For example, a parent-child relationship would require the parent to work with the child to fulfill the entire hierarchy, whereas a team leader at a job or athletic group would focus more on belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. Whether the relationship is hierarchical or between peers, the key is for both parties to work in tandem for it to be mutually beneficial.
In addition to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, relationships may also depend on Clark’s four stages of psychological safety, which are inclusion, learner, contributor and challenger.2
1) Inclusion safety is when people feel wanted and that they matter.
2) Learner safety is when it’s okay to ask questions and to make mistakes without negative repercussions.
3) Contributor safety is when people can make a difference with their particular set of skills, so they actively participate.
4) Challenger safety is when people are allowed to disagree without fear of reprisal.
Clark’s stages of psychological safety apply to the work environment, but even in friendship or familial relationships, they can make the difference between a close loving connection vs. an adversarial or tense association. By creating a work environment or entrepreneurial team where each member feels secure enough to act true to themselves, we can lift invisible barriers and empower colleagues to experiment and reach their full potential. By the same token, children, relatives and friends who feel empowered to ask questions, make mistakes, contribute differing opinions and know they’ll be loved no matter what, naturally develop into Humans Being More.
What if a professional or personal relationship runs into obstacles that manifest in problems or dissent? A handy way to determine why the relationship is not flowing smoothly is Beckhard’s GRPI Model. This diagnostic tool developed by organizational theorist Dick Beckhard is based on goals, roles, processes and interpersonal relationships.3 When issues arise, the three questions to ask are:
1)Are goals clearly defined and is everyone committed to finishing them?
2)Is each member’s role and responsibilities clear in every aspect of a project?
3)Does everyone involved understand the processes involved through completion?
4)Are team members communicating with each other in a mutually agreeable and trusting way?
Although Beckhard’s model was created for a work environment, it certainly works on a personal level as well. Friends and family need to be committed to their relationships, clear in what their roles are and honestly communicating with each for their connections to be strengthened and lasting.
In a nutshell, good relationships matter a great deal. Proven links include lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy and a stronger immune system. We can also recover more quickly from illness and even live longer, more productive lives when we develop ongoing solid relationships.4 It’s always the perfect time to reach out from your heart to a long-lost friend, a geographically distant relative or a professional mentor from years long gone!
1, 2, 3 https://teambuilding.com/blog/team-building-psychology#:~:text=Team%20building%20psychology%20is%20a,work%20environment%20where%20everyone%20thrives.