Establishing Strong Relationships Through a Retreat Experience

Posted on March 29, 2018 by America's Keswick in Retreat Planning

Retreats come in a variety of types and purposes. You may be familiar with the standard company retreat that offers fun and games while providing team-building challenges. Other retreats might consist of old college pals reuniting to reminisce and catch up on the latest news. Some programs are designed to strengthen spiritual devotion while connecting individuals on a more personal level.

One under-recognized, yet overarching benefit of retreats is the propensity for participants to establish strong relationships with other group members.

Group outings in a comfortable setting tend to eliminate the barriers and conflicts that restrict openness and friendship that are present in the working environment. Removed from the stresses of everyday life and the competitive pressures and deadlines of the workplace, participants improve interpersonal communication while eliminating inhibitions that prevent closer interaction.

After returning to their normal environment, participants are not only refreshed physically and spiritually but can communicate more openly, thereby resulting in a more collaborative working environment.

Benefits of Group Retreats

Whether a retreat is designed to be a working-recreational experience or simply an organized team building opportunity, a remote and uninterrupted activity can be a fruitful undertaking. Taking a working and planning exercise offsite inspires creativity and imagination that is simply not possible in the face of normal daily interruptions. A retreat’s circumstances and planned events can bring focus to establishing strong relationships.

Good times and a pleasant environment add fuel to personal interaction and reduce participants’ natural internal defenses in favor of openness and one-on-one conversation.

Developing Friendships and Team Building

Retreats enhance relationship building by altering the conditions that surround the impersonal workplace and creating a deeper and more open environment in which shared experiences and newly discovered commonalities happen.

The business benefits are obvious. More familiarity among workers facilitates better interdepartmental communication and cooperation and can increase an individual’s feeling of worth within the organization. Establishing strong relationships is an important activity in a well-structured business, church, non-profit concern, or social group.

According to an October 2014, article by Kelsey Meyer of Influence & Co., retreats often come with benefits that are not readily anticipated by the organizers. These benefits expose each person to new relationships, ones that are unexpected perks for both the individual and the organization.

Outcomes include:

  • Overcoming fears by individually discussing or acting out certain job stressors and concerns. The group can minimize these by openly discussing solutions.
  • Focusing the group on the Common Goal is another potential outcome of a successful retreat. Too often individuals are thoroughly absorbed by their own tasks. Collaborating with individuals from other disciplines on company-related objectives exposes everyone to a broader vision of the organization’s purpose.
  • Exposing a co-worker’s hidden talents is another superb benefit of a retreat. In a new environment, individuals may have a chance to show off their talents, sometimes finding shared interests that can solidify a new relationship.
  • Creating a tightly-knit team made up of members with stronger relationships and clear mutual objectives is a giant step toward a productive and high-functioning team.

Retreats for Many Reasons

One New Jersey faith-based non-profit, America’s Keswick, not only organizes retreats for church and business conferences, but also for individuals recovering from drug addiction. Besides the positive messages of support and encouragement, the individuals who participate in their Colony of Mercy program interactions develop positive, sustaining relationships. The sharing of challenges and the personal support from fellow attendees and staff encourages closer relationships that remain long after the retreat has ended.

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When preparing for a retreat, it's important to pack strategically to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Start with the basics like clothes, toiletries, and footwear suitable for different activities. Remember items for outdoor adventures, such as sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent. Include personal safety items like a first aid kit and any necessary medications. Consider bringing entertainment, snacks, and personal comfort items for relaxation. Lastly, organize your belongings with extra bags and packing cubes. Customize this packing checklist based on your specific retreat and preferences for a seamless and fulfilling experience.

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