Having just recently joined the Mandt family as a faculty member, I have been reflecting on the new relationships I am developing with my co-workers and the folks in the workshops I am facilitating. This reminded me of the first time I met one of the individuals at the facility where I worked before coming to work for Mandt.

One afternoon, I was doing some work in the residential building and there was a client that I did not know standing outside an open office door. Normally, I would have just continued on with what I was doing and not paid any attention to him, but he appeared very apprehensive so I decided to go talk to him. I introduced myself and explained my role at the facility and asked his name and where he was from. As I suspected, he was new to the facility and the manager who was about to take him up to his assigned residential unit had stopped in the office to ask another manager a question. After a few minutes the manager came out of the office and walked the individual to his new unit. As he was leaving, the individual thanked me for taking the time to talk to him.

A few days later, I saw this person again and he made a point to come up to me as soon as he saw me and initiated a conversation about how his day was going. These types of interactions continued on a regular basis whenever we would encounter each other. Sometimes his day would be going well and other times he would share his frustrations.

I recognize that if I had not taken those few minutes to engage with this person it is unlikely that relationship would have developed. It makes me wonder how many opportunities I have missed to have a positive impact on people because I have let my own discomfort, fear, or just the busyness of my day prevent me from engaging with them on just a simple level. I wonder how many people had walked by this individual before me and did not take the time to smile or say hello and how the individual perceived that lack of interaction.

In the Mandt System, building positive healthy relationships and creating safe environments for people are the foundation of everything we teach. So often we perceive our interactions with others as negative, based on their non-verbal and verbal communication. I have experienced this to be especially true for many of the individuals I have served. Sometimes all it requires to improve perceptions and initiate positive relationships is a smile, a hello, or a friendly introduction.

Doug ZehrVogt – Mandt Faculty