INDIANAPOLIS - Radiology administrators can benefit in many ways from healthy friendships in the workplace, according to a July 11 presentation at the AHRA annual meeting.
In her keynote, relationship expert Shasta Nelson talked about what makes for a healthy relationship, both personally and professionally. She also explained why having such friendships leads to a better overall quality of life.
"Your social health is on the other side of [your] social exertion," Nelson said. "I want for every single one of you to feel seen, safe, and satisfied by the people you choose for the best of days. Your health, your happiness, your joy of work rests on your friendships."
Previous studies that Nelson cited suggest that loneliness is a bigger detriment to health than bad dieting or smoking. A 2020 Cigna report indicated that about 61% of surveyed Americans are lonely. Another study published in 2015 by Brigham Young University researchers found that social isolation is significantly associated with mortality risk factors, as well as earlier death.
Loneliness can also add stress to the body, with recent MRI studies showing that social isolation is tied to cognitive decline and higher risk of dementia.
"Loneliness is the feeling in our body that says I wish I felt more love, more connection, more appreciation," Nelson said. "It's similar to hunger."
Nelson, author of the book, The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time, talked about the "science" of friendship and the three nonnegotiable requirements for healthy and improved relationships. These include positivity, consistency, and vulnerability. These requirements, when integrated, can lead to increased employee retention, engagement, and creativity, among other benefits, Nelson said.
"Feeling supported and having friends in this world ... doesn't stop the stressors, but it offers your body the ability to absorb that stress," she said.
It may be obvious that people who are more positive in life are more approachable. However, Nelson added that positivity does not just mean saying positive words; it's also a personal feeling before or after interacting with others.
"We want to feel good things," she said. "We want to feel joy or inspired. That's why we do team activities. We judge each other by positive emotions. We are constantly trying to get these feelings."
Positivity also means making others feel such things as joy or validation. This means showing empathy toward others.
Positivity alone cannot sustain meaningful friendships, Nelson said. Consistency in terms of friendships means repetitive shared experiences.
For radiology employees and managers, consistency is a large part of establishing and sustaining friendships in the clinic since they see each other every day of the work week.
"You have something in common that helps you show up consistently," Nelson said. "You're paid to see each other. If you're not meeting up consistently, then this is where most friendships go to die."
Nelson said scheduling ways for workers to interact with each other, such as team activities or breaks, can help retain friendships and camaraderie in the office or the clinic.
For healthy relationships, Nelson said vulnerability is sharing to feel seen. While this may seem reserved for romantic relationships, vulnerability is where information is shared about the good and the bad, which lets people know more about them personally.
"What we don't want is to be rejected afterward. Every single one of us is scared of being judged," Nelson said.
However, when mixed with positivity and consistency, vulnerability may be a more approachable part of friendships to have a stronger bond.
"Do you how much vulnerability it takes to brainstorm, to be a part of problem solving?" Nelson said. "We don't want to say the wrong thing or be judged. It takes a tremendous amount of vulnerability to show up. What you [radiologists] do is vulnerable work."