Relational Capability – the stuff of life / by Mark Weber

OnePlusOne’s Relational Capability Framework

How can we enable people to build the kinds of relationships that make a positive difference to their lives and the lives of those with whom they interact? We have been seeking answers to this question for over forty years, through our unique and wide-ranging research and innovation projects. We believe that developing people’s relational capability – enhancing their ability to establish and sustain relationships – brings us one step closer to an answer.

The relational capability framework encapsulates what it takes to make and maintain cohesive and harmonious relationships. On the one hand it reflects what we bring to the table, our relational skills, beliefs, and behaviours, and how they combine to shape the quality of interactions we have. This is our ‘internal relational capability’. On the other hand, ‘relational opportunity’ recognises that the circumstances of our lives or the settings in which we find ourselves also influence if and how we engage in healthy relationships.

What does that mean in practice?

OnePlusOne does much to apply this relationship framework in practice. We train front-line practitioners in relational capability, and provide online interventions to strengthen couple and family relationships, including behavioural modelling training. We also support separated parents to manage their interactions in ways that promote the wellbeing of their children, and this has all added up to an understanding of how to help people improve their relational experiences, often by making small changes to how they interact.

We are embarking on a series of projects trialling approaches to building relational capability in different settings – enhancing the internal relational capability of practitioners, employers, teachers, and addressing some of the system level barriers to exercising that capability. We are starting that work with an early years service in a local authority and with a group of employers, but looking ahead we are keen to explore what developing relationally capable schools might look like, or neighbourhoods, or care services for the elderly, to name but a few.

If you would like to learn more about relational capability, or discuss our work further, please contact OnePlusOne Director Penny Mansfield CBE: penny.mansfield@oneplusone.org.uk