Relational systems, a look inside
A relationship system is a group of interdependent people that share a common goal or identity. We are all part of various relationship systems. These systems are created by the way we interact with each other, observe each other and on occasion ignore each other. Each relationship system is constituted by the special and unique way we are together in that relationship.
We behave in different ways with our children, parents, friends and business partners. In each relationship system that we are a part of either enhances or marginalizes certain parts of ourselves, thus it provokes us to practice different things. For instance—in some relationships we give ourselves permission to be more challenging while in others relationship systems we may force ourselves to be more controlled.
As a result of this, there a teams or systems that inspire us, making us more creative and capable while others have the opposite effect. We tend to believe that the individuals in the relationship system have the power or capacity to influence us. We believe, for instance, that it is John or Mary that create our frustration and aggressivity when they judge other colleagues or when they don’t meet their agreements. However, blaming John and Mary will not make things easier. Instead it will increase the toxicity within the system, making it even more dysfunctional that before.
Although we may find it difficult to understand why John and Mary behave the way they do and surely they are at the very least partially responsible for what is happening, from the Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) perspective, it’s not what other do that inspires or discourages us but how we choose to react in response to their behaviours. These reactions that emerge from the interpretations we make about what’s happening are conditioned by the relationship system, i.e. the invisible and intangible entity that is always present and that is also our responsibility.
If we were to ask a fish what water is, the fish would have no idea what we were talking about, regardless of how wet it was. The same applies to the relationship systems we are part of. We often can’t perceive the colour or the information comprised in the water we are swimming in. And that allows us or stops us from moving forward in the right direction.
Therefore, for teams to regain its generative capacity, it is key to reveal the information that is the water they are swimming in. Team members may not be aware of this information, but this is deeply impacting both their results and wellbeing.
The success of this methodology is therefore based on placing the relationship as the functional axis of the culture for that relationship system. To support this, the ORSC model offers a methodology and subsequent tools that help the coach or facilitator to access that invisible entity, i.e. the culture of the organizational or relationship system, making it explicit in such a way that the team and its members can gain confidence and open up to deeper levels of information that will allow them to unleash their full potential.
Unfolding hidden structures, unmet expectations, unoccupied roles, ghost roles or toxic patterns of communication increases efficiency and optimizes efforts when developing healthy and generative relationships.
Marita Fridjhon and Faith Fuller, co-founders of the ORSC (Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching) methodology will be delivering a conference at Valikiria Hubspace in Barcelona on December 5, 2019, at 18:30 hrs. Registration is required to participate in this event.