How to seed a fertile ground for healthy relationships at work?

“Everyone talks about peace but no one teaches peace”

So, let’s get (re-)started…

What are practical steps to seed a fertile ground for healthy and fruitful relationships at work?

Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, best known for her philosophy of education and her writing on scientific pedagogy, said: “Everyone talks about peace but no one teaches peace. In this world, you are educated for competition, and competition is the beginning of every war. When he will educate himself for co-operation and to offer each other solidarity, that day he will be educating himself for peace.“

~ Maria Montessori

QUOTE MARIA Montessori

Great relationships at work don’t emerge out of nowhere.

They require first the will to show up and exchange parts of ourselves (a bit at first) that reveal our humanity.

Very often we need to review habits taken as we grew up, and that are in the way of growing healthy relationships.

In the past month, I have started coaching a few new teams and groups of CEOs, VPs and senior leaders, across various cultures and sectors.

In this newsletter and the following 3, I will share their take, my thoughts and learning questions on various aspects that make healthy relationship seeding most likely to work.

You’ll get initial steps you and your team can test, practice and measure to support budding relationships and promote a culture of peace and understanding.

“Arriving”: how to be inclusive and welcoming from the start

It takes effort to get to know our co-workers, regardless of their role, department, or seniority level, or for instance, board members – people employees would rarely meet if at all. The way we introduce ourselves and make each other feel welcome is key to establishing a foundation for healthy relationships.

Being open to learning about each other and revealing progressively something about us, speaking from a place of “I”, beyond shallow opening rounds, and speaking with intention to the person in front of you and not over their shoulders, will make a huge difference.

It sounds obvious, however, how many times do we find ourselves skipping this basic step?

Here’s what my participants shared:

What makes you feel most at ease when you meet new people? 

  • When someone else introduces me
  • When we swap a joke or a smile
  • When I share and learn something more personal quickly (but not something that makes me and others queasy)
  • When we find common ground quickly (values, life events, similar setbacks or joys)
  • When we get to know people for who they are, not just their job title

What would you love to hear, feel or think when the relationship develops shortly after you’ve met?

  • I want to feel there is going to be learning and mutual support
  • The understanding and acceptance that relationships will grow in a squiggly way, not a linear way.
  • Acceptance that some moments can and will be challenging
  • We all have a desire to hear diverse perspectives
  • Trusting relationships allow us to support and challenge each other
  • We challenge and champion each other
  • We provide snippets of information and personal stories as a means to guide, but we avoid judgment, instruction or unrequested advice.
  • We remember human stories. We don’t remember advice.
  • We show up with humility, vulnerability, and kindness
  • We are making each other accountable
  • Bonus: If it goes well, we will experience an increased feeling we will still know each other in ten years, sharing fond memories!

In the next newsletter, I will cover other steps, which are sometimes overlooked in groups and teams.

  • How to grow respect and support
  • What helps us communicate openly and honestly
  • The first steps to conflict resolution

Have you tried some or all of the steps above?

What nuances do you want to bring?

What might be in the way for you?

What helps you accomplish these steps?

I look forward to your thoughts!


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