What is a relational approach?

A ‘relational approach’ is a way of interacting or communicating with others that embodies core values such as respect, inclusiveness, honesty, compassion, cooperation and humility.

There are a wide range of relational approaches, each of which caters to a different situation.

The most commonly used relational approaches — like active listening and courtesy — are needed to maintain and build good relationships.

Other approaches need to be more structured and planned. Mentoring or circles, for example, can strengthen existing relationships and help to solve difficult problems.

Some approaches are only used when there has been some kind of relationship crisis or breakdown, and generally need a trained facilitator to make sure the conversation between those involved is safe and productive. Mediation, for instance, can resolve the tension and stalemates that often arise when people disagree. Restorative justice can help to repair relationships when someone has been hurt or wronged.

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