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Relational Proximity

At WeAreCompany we help you to assess, review and improve relationships by looking through three lenses.

The first lens helps you to examine the foundations of great relationships – call it ‘emotional intelligence’. The quality of any relationship is shaped, to a significant degree, by the innate self-knowledge and social awareness that each individual brings to the relationship.

The second lens focuses on the contextual factors that affect great relationships. However strong our emotional intelligence is, a set of extrinsic factors have the potential to both weaken or strengthen our relationships with others.

The third lens highlights the marks of great relationships. If relationships are flourishing we should expect to see certain patterns of behaviour and indicators of collective effectiveness. For example in the following areas: how well we manage conflict, our propensity to forgive and to apologise, our willingness to be vulnerable, the degree to which we focus on impact and results.

Our systematic approach to strengthening relationships uses all three of these lenses.

To give you a taster for our approach the Individual Relational Assessment tool takes a look at the second lens, where we explore the contextual factors that affect great relationships. Here we draw on the ‘Relational Proximity Framework’ (developed by our Partner, the Relationships Foundation). This framework introduces five drivers of relational proximity.

Encounter. This first driver assesses the quality and nature of communication between individuals and how this builds a sense of connectedness. Do the ways individuals communicate (face to face, email, text, video-conferencing, etc) create transparency in the relationship, help to avoid misunderstanding and forge a sense of connection? If you need to improve you ‘encounter’ score, here are some initial ideas for you to consider:

  1. Review how consistent communication is across all channels with your colleagues. Find out how colleagues see this.

  2. Ask how communication can become more transparent and open. Place a spotlight on any topics where colleagues or you feel people are not ‘saying it straight’.

  3. Explore to what degree individuals are aware of the powerful affect of tone and body language in communication.

Storyline. The second driver explores the time and story of a relationship. Do the various interactions between individuals over time build a sense of momentum, growth and stability? Does their history together build towards a sense of belonging and loyalty? If you need to improve you ’storyline’ score, here are some initial ideas for you to consider:

  1. Articulate how you would describe the history and story of the relationship. Find out if your colleagues see things the same way, or differently.

  2. Clarify what key moments have shaped your past relationship and how are these affecting your relationship today.

  3. Consider how you might draw on your shared history to build momentum and unity in your relationships with colleagues today.

Knowledge. The third driver considers the different contexts which shape how we are known and our ability both to read a person and to manage a relationship. Do individuals know enough about each other to manage the relationship effectively? How might a deeper understanding of a colleague’s life at home and outside of work affect how we interact with him/her at work? If you need to improve you ’knowledge’ score, here are some initial ideas for you to consider:

  1. Give time to understand how life beyond work is affecting the colleagues your work with. Find out what your colleagues are passionate about, outside of work. Explore the pressures and anxieties they face and have to carry into the workplace.

  2. Explore how you can reveal more of your own interests, hopes, dreams and anxieties to your colleagues.

Fairness. The fourth driver examines power and how it’s used and experienced within a relationship. Is authority used in ways that encourage engagement, participation, creativity and openness? Is power used in ways that promote fairness and convey respect? If you need to improve you ’fairness’ score, here are some initial ideas for you to consider:

  1. Review how authority is being used in the relationship today, as seen from the perspective of those under authority.

  2. Explore how the current leadership approach might become more empowering, entrusting of those being led.

  3. Find out where colleagues believe there is unfairness in relationships and interactions today.

Alignment. The fifth driver looks at purpose, values and goals, and the degree to which these are shared across individuals in ways that bring synergy and motivation to a relationship. When examining the purposes of an organisation and its people, how deep rooted are their intentions or are the two parties pulling in different directions? When working in a team are we clear and committed to shared goals and values, or are we pursuing different and conflicting agendas? If you need to improve you ’alignment’ score, here are some initial ideas for you to consider:

  1. Find out what colleagues believe the purpose and goals of the team are. Explore difference in perception across your colleagues.

  2. Develop with your colleagues a set of values and behaviours that describe how we should relate and work together, clarify what this looks like in practice, and agree how you will be mutually accountable for following thought on this aspiration.

If you’re interested in learning more please and exploring our full diagnostic tools, please get in touch with us here.

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