Relational intelligence | Post-pandemic trends

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Stemming from the paradigm shift associated with the global changes over the past two years, expectations around employment and client relationships have shifted. No longer are relationships built on time and availability, but rather the quality of engagements, which has become imperative to building longstanding, trustworthy relationships. Esther Perel, a psychotherapist specialising in relationships, indicates that “connection has transformative power in all aspects of our lives”.

What has changed in terms of the employment relationship? With remote work initiatives being implemented across several industries and types of organisations, opportunities to build meaningful connections in the workplace have reduced significantly. However, bearing in mind that connections are not based on frequency but rather quality, it is important to create intentional opportunities for attachments to be formed. In addition, the employer role has expanded to some degree, with an increasing trend for employers to play a holistic role in terms of their employees’ financial, physical, and mental wellbeing through support initiatives. Workforce demands have shifted to focus on employee experience and retention.

Where client relationships are concerned, not only have several business demands and economic realities impacted expectations, but there is also an increased need for holistic solutions and the application of critical thinking to clients’ unique needs. The quality of time and effective future-oriented solutions aid clients in achieving business success and reaching strategic goals.

On a practical level, the changing landscape of relational building centred around meaningful connections can be achieved as follows:

  1. Give meetings and engagements a more pronounced, intentional purpose. Often, meetings can be overly operational or outcome-focused. Allow time for interaction on longer-term aspirations or business goals, as well as light-hearted conversation to evaluate purpose and build intentional relational capital.
  2. Ask questions to get to know the reality of staff and clients. Not only will this enable you to provide holistic solutions or suggestions in terms of needs, but it will foster closeness by allowing the person to feel heard and understood.
  3. Meetings and engagements should not all be overly structured. The right amount of structure will lead to effective communication, but if overly structured, any spontaneous opportunities to connect are smothered.
  4. Get creative on where you meet and engage. Breaking a cycle and meeting in an unconventional or new setting can bring new energy to the situation, especially when meeting on a one-on-one basis.
  5. When experiencing moments of awkwardness in social engagements we often revert to social scripts used in the past or general trivial talk. Practice comfortability for going “off-script” and engaging in new methods to really connect with those around you.

We often gather or meet without really connecting. In some instances, our social capital reserves have been depleted. By being intentional and spending quality time with staff and clients, a longstanding, trustworthy relationship built on mutual commitment and reciprocal positive attitudes, will be fostered.

At ASL, we create thriving teams by engaging with employees on longer-term career aspirations and developing competencies aligned with industry needs.

If you would like to join ASL Talent for professional opportunities or training contracts, reach out to hr@asl.co.za.

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