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Fostering Belonging

Stock image of belonging poster.

Stock image of belonging poster.

When we joined the military, most, if not all of us knew we were leaving our families and hometowns behind to serve a higher calling. While we entered into the military, we joined another family, not one of the same blood, but one of the same fabric and a commitment for serving to support and defend our nation. Serving in the military affords members an opportunity to establish relationships with brothers and sisters in arms with memories that last a lifetime.

What does a sense of belonging feel like? Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place. It creates a basis for enduring, positive, and meaningful relationships. Belonging is felt when there is open communication, established trust, understanding one another beyond duties, and synergy within the team. Creating a culture of belonging starts with building relationships in the work center as it is a critical component in understanding each person and their background. There are many benefits that can be gained from this effort, such as identifying members life experiences and their talents that they bring to the work center. Another way to foster a sense of belonging is to verbalize appreciation for a member or a team’s collective effort in accomplishing a project or task. Even a simple thank you and recognizing their originality that they provide to the team will go a long way with a sense of value and belonging. When gratitude is displayed, members will feel connected to their team and mission that they are supporting, as they feel more motivated to continue to perform at a high level. A sense of belonging is derived from an inclusive work environment, where all teammate’s diverse thoughts and ideas are solicited and respected. An inclusive work place has ideal traits to strive for such as innovation in processes, high performing teams that are satisfied with their work environment, and a feeling of respect and fairness among everyone. It is important for leaders to create this type of environment and it is even more paramount for co-workers to foster collaborative and accepting relationships where they are able to work synergistically with one another. Ideally, these practices become a norm and develop into the culture of an organization. This will increase retention, commitment, overall satisfaction and happiness in the work center and create a team that strives to reach their goals.

The March AFMC Connect on Belonging encourages work centers to invite a Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) or Resilience Training Assistant (RTA) to review the resiliency lesson “Celebrate Good News” and discuss the importance of being engaged in the moment. This lesson emphasizes the idea of mindfulness, being present in the moment when communicating with co-workers and to show genuine interest in the good news that they share because it fosters relationships and allows them to relive the moment with you.