Building Connection through Positive Relationships- Staff Development Session

A strategic priority of Queensland Academies Health Sciences campus is to enrich mentor learning communities and Academy-wide practices through scientifically validated positive psychology knowledge and practices to promote wellbeing and the success of staff and students.

In 2018, our health and wellbeing community focus was connectedness. This theme permeated through all facets of Academy life including cross country, QA Spring into wellbeing: A QLD mental health initiative, biggest morning tea, visible wellbeing posters and signs, and other staff and student events.

Why you might ask? Research suggests that positive relationships and our work, are the major contributors to individual well-being (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2008).  Seligman(2011) further notes that happiness cannot be achieved without positive social relationships, with Neuroscience researcher Matthew Lieberman (2013) stating that because human beings are naturally social creatures, our interactions with others are just as vital as food and water. As these interactions are the means by which work occurs, it benefits any organisation to develop high-quality relationships in the workplace.

At Queensland Academies before our eager students arrived for Day 1, our staff team were privileged to welcome Mrs. Camilla Maison from the Langley Group to build through professional development, high quality staff connections to support the wellbeing and success of both our staff and students.

The engaging session highlighted the importance of strong social skills within the staff team to perform at their best by maintaining supportive relationships and recognising the complementary strengths of their colleagues. Evidence-based theory was presented that aided our understanding of human behaviour, that is, we are intrinsically social beings which means connection is an essential part of our social experience in organisations. The session presented hands on practical strategies for staff to understand how organisations enhance their outcomes through productive social processes, and as a result positive connections across all domains of our community are a key focus for the success of our QA students.

A key ingredient for positive relationships is positive emotion. Fredrickson (2007) suggested the Broaden and Build Theory which states that positive emotions may have an undoing effect on the residue of negative emotions. This means, for instance, that when your heart rate rises after experiencing a negative emotion, you bounce back to a calmer pace when experiencing a positive emotion, instead of a neutral or negative one. This could also mean that positive emotions have an effect on protecting health, wellbeing and in leading a meaningful life. Fredrickson (2013) states that the broaden hypothesis, drawn from the Broaden and Build Theory indicates that people experiencing positive emotions show patterns of thought that are notably more flexible and inclusive, creative, integrative, open to information, forward looking, efficient and high level.  At QAHS we believe these to be integral components of an IB Learner.

Other strategies presented that allowed staff to experience positive emotion and build connections included power posing https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are

What went well today? Listing 3 good things to promote positive emotion https://youtu.be/ZOGAp9dw8Ac

Staff also participated in a range of positive emotion building activities such as (connecting with self) through sound bowls, led by external facilitator Synergem and creative marbling (connecting through new experience).

At the conclusion of the session staff were encouraged to share the strategies with family, friends and students, as the ripple effect of positive emotions and connection or “positive contagion” can facilitate an upward spiral of positive connection encouraging our staff and students to be the very best that they can be.

Health and Wellbeing Committee