Reflections on Human Relations

This summer semester I am teaching a course at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehab Sciences, titled, "Human Relations in the Health Care Environment."  It is a course I have taught for the past 15 years and each summer I have some 30 young Juniors and Seniors in my class.

When I first started teaching this class I tried to focus in on health care relationships, but it soon dawned on me that human relationships are just that - human relationships.  It doesn't matter, really, where you find yourself with others, how you build, maintain or nurture important relationships follow a similar path.  So I have framed the course in a more generic way, looking at values, aspects, and strategies that might be employed in any/all of our relationships.

For this class I use a book written by Steven Covey titled, "The 8th Habit".  You are probably familiar with Steven Covey and his "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."  This book was a monster best seller in the early 90's and still registers as one of the most popular books ever written in the past 50 years.  The book I use however, is a follow-up book where Covey added one more habit to his thesis.

The students like the book, not just because it is relevant and easy to digest, but it is also really inexpensive.  They can pick the book up at Amazon, or any other on-line bookstore for a couple bucks.  As a parent, who helped buy college text books for 3 children, I am happy that we can use such a relevant resource for such a low cost.

One of the first assignments I give the students is to have them write their own eulogy.  As you might imagine, their reaction is usually one of surprise and concern.  They think it is morbid and can't see the relevance.  But I clarify that I want them to think about their life, and surmise they have lived a long time, and when they die, their best friend will do the eulogy - what will they say.

In a way, this exercise really summarizes human relations.  The students write about things that you might if you were doing your own eulogy.  They talk about people they have relationships with, and what makes these relationships special.

So what about you - what would you say in your own eulogy!  If you focus on this legacy, and then act on it, you will surely enhance the connections you have.