Right Now, We Need Relationship-Centered Interactions
BY DR. NATE HAGSTROM
This unique and challenging, relatively sudden disruption to everyday life is an opportunity for us all to realize new ways of seeing life, be more aware of the balance in things, connect with our humanity, and grow as a person. This includes how we communicate and interact with others.
Relationship-centered care is a frame for looking at how we as professionals approach working with others. It starts with increasing one’s awareness of where they are as a person physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually*, and letting that awareness inform hot buttons, biases, personality traits and other factors, which might impact the interaction. It also allows for one to use self-compassion and be ok with where we are at that moment. Self-compassion allows for an honest assessment of one’s current state, and allows wiggle room for imperfections. Compassion for self is a presupposition for having compassion for others. [*Spirituality simply refers to the way you relate to the world and your purpose in it.]
The next step in relationship-centered care is for one to be open to and as aware as they can to where the other person is currently. Compassion for them as a person, for the challenges and struggles they bring with them, for their feelings as well as their thoughts. Compassion is enabled by empathy, and motivated by concern. It’s fueled by virtue. It may not be essential to a relationship or interaction, but it sure helps.
The third step is to see the relationship in the context of your team (or family), the neighborhood (or organization), and the community (or society). Interactions are relational first, and situational second, and essentially never one or the other. Certainly in most professional and educational interactions, they are contextual.
I’ve known about relationship-centered care for well over 10 years, and some elements come natural to me, or at least I’m naturally aware of them. Yet I’m no expert practitioner, and that’s ok. Each of us has certain genetic and experiential realities that make us imperfectly human. There are invariably situational smoke screens that can cloud our vision of things.
Be kind to yourself, take a deep breath, be aware, and be positive in your interactions. We’re all in this together.