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  • Writer's pictureAKA Education Group

Building connections in school, clinical placement, and other social settings.

By Malvindar Singh / Healthcare Tutor 


"Who is on my team? How can I engage with them? Will they support me? What will they think if I make a mistake? Where can I find help?"   

We've all probably pondered one or more of these questions at some point in our lives. Take a moment to reflect on how you handled such situations before continuing to read. 


These questions are common in any environment we find ourselves in. Every environment has complex social structures embedded within it, and regardless of our position within these, we need to contemplate our well-being. Sometimes, all it takes is a little trust or determination to seek assistance during stressful times. 


Psychologists propose theories suggesting that emotional and behavioral regulation stems from early connections formed in childhood and continues to develop into adulthood. 

Connections are an innate and intimate part of the lives of all human beings; they are fundamental to us and help guide our existence.  They serve as an invisible protective shield and help us cope in difficult situations as well as boost our confidence and help us excel in life. Connection is evolutionary - it is what gave our distant ancestors an advantage over other species – and it remains a necessity for us today. 


Let’s look at the people we live with.  This may be our friends or family. The connections we have with those closest to us are the best tool in our toolbox to repair conflicts that may arise and strengthen the bond between all. It is our key learning system that offers the unlimited support of all, while still maintaining the integrity of each individual. 


How about school, where domestic or international students are adapting and adjusting themselves to a new environment? Or a workplace where again we need these connections to help us tackle challenging situations. Where we feel reassured, have an awareness of self-care, and can identify people who can help us from feeling overwhelmed - here seeking help is seen as a strength, not a weakness. 

But how do we build this connection?  What must we do to strengthen relationships and receive practical and emotional support from those around us? 


Here are a few strategies: 

  • Self-awareness – Reflect on areas where you need support and understand your impact on others, while also considering cultural norms and organisational dynamics. Focus on understanding not only who you are but also how your beliefs differ from others'. 

  • Listening – Practice unbiased listening where your views do not impose on the views of others. Take your time listening and allow your perspective to change by viewing it from someone else's point of view. Actively listen and reflect on what you have heard, then ask, “Did I catch that right?” This not only helps to clear any doubt, but it also helps to establish strong connections driven by expressing your interest in others' views. 

  • Acknowledge – “Thank you for being there”, may be a simple acknowledgement, but it might just be the gateway to building a trusting relationship.   Regardless of whether the contribution of the person you are thanking has been of great practical use to you or not, your acknowledgement of it means a lot – it makes the recipient value themselves and feel that there is meaning in what they do. 

  • Motivate - Ask “What can I do or say that may be helpful for you?” Remember, many people do not tend to ask for or seek support for fear of being judged. Encourage others to seek support by asking how you can assist them. Create a supportive environment where seeking help is encouraged. 

  • Peer Review – Seek feedback from others to gain perspective and support growth. Constructive conversations promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing, helping individuals identify areas of success and areas for improvement. 

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