Refresh: HRO Universal Relationship Skills

November 9, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

As changes within the country and our organization continue to occur, relationship skills are very critical during this time. Over 22,000 faculty, staff and learners have taken the HRO training. Whether you took the training last year, before COVID-19 or during the pandemic, a refresh might be needed. 

“We want to ensure that people are reminded of these skills and how to practice them in their daily lives,” said Kai Peter Stabell, project senior manager. “It’s important that we all demonstrate these skills not only at work but also at home and amongst friends and family.”

Universal Relationship Skills is the November ‘Tool of the Month.” If you find yourself needing a refresh, please keep reading. 

What are Relationship Skills?

When we use simple communication practices to show respect and create familiarity among team members, we strengthen our culture of teamwork. As unprecedented times continue, this is a very important time to lean on teamwork and empathy.

Universal Relationship Skills increase frequency of communications. Some Universal Relationship skills are non-verbal such as smiling and making eye contact. While others are verbal. Saying hello is a verbal Universal Relationship Skill.

These skills are good practice in fostering the caring and inclusive culture at Michigan Medicine. Frequent use of these skills create an environment that — when we need to — we can think well together as a TEAM.

Things employees can do in order to demonstrate these skills

Even though a large portion of colleagues are working from home, there are still ways to demonstrate the Universal Relationship Skills. These skills apply to all levels of employment. 

Smile and Greet Others and Say Hello

  • Smile and say “hello” in virtual meetings. 
  • When in-person with coworkers or  patients/families, wave and verbally greet. For example, “Good morning” or “How are you today?”
  • Check in via Skype or another platform with members of your team. For example, “Hi there. Just saying hello and please let me know if you need any help today.” 

Introduce using preferred names and explain roles

  • When with patients: Refer to others by their preferred—usually their first—name. For example, “this is Doctor Ashby, he prefers to go by his middle name, John.”
  • Explaining Roles—to both team members & patients/families—helps everyone to learn names & makes sure all the right team members are there if working on a non-familiar team. When virtually introducing a colleague, be sure to type their information in the chat (if available) for others to see. 

Listen with empathy and an intent to understand

  • Listening with empathy is giving of yourself. 
  • Repeat short phrases to indicate understanding. Short verbal affirmations are best — such as “yes” and “I see.” Do not tell others you know how they feel.
  • With some lag time in technology, be sure the person is done with their statement before you begin talking. 
  • Have empathy for your colleagues and patients/families during this unprecedented time. 

Communicate the good intentions of your actions

  • As most communication is being done by email during this time, it is important to communicate to colleagues and patients/families exactly what you are doing and how your action will benefit them and contribute to attaining shared goals.
  • Responding to an email within a timely manner to explain that you are currently working on a response is a major way to demonstrate this skill. 

Provide the opportunity for others to ask questions 

  • Provide opportunity for others to ask questions by pausing & making eye contact.
  • Also, think about ways to help patients ask questions that they may not feel comfortable articulating during an appointment.
  • If in a virtual meeting, allow time for questions at the end of the meeting. 

Resources for all 

Please check out these resources for more clarification on Universal Relationship Skills. There are downloadable and printable handouts that you can share with your team or hang in your areas. 

HRO Website
Universal Relationship Skills Overview Infographic
Universal Relationship Skills Images for Presentations

Stay tuned to Headlines this month for more information on how you can apply Universal Relationship Skills to your day-to-day routines and even during the holiday season.