UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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January 2010: Reshape how we engage with each other.

Given the New Year, it’s a good time to pay attention to the quality of our relationships and, if necessary, to reshape how we engage with each other. We rarely have conversations about how we’re doing unless there’s a breakdown and then we proceed to converse when we’re at our most oppositional and least focused on a win-win solution. Instead of waiting for a breakdown to occur, what if we initiate this conversation when things are going well and do so in a spirit of continuous improvement? The outcome of the conversation will inevitably be different!

In the next month, plan a time to have a conversation with your partner about how you’re doing together. Start off with acknowledging what’s going particularly well and then talk about areas for improvement, remembering to do this from a position of making a good relationship stronger rather than “fixing” one that’s “broken.” Consider asking for feedback first on things your partner would like you to do differently and model receiving this feedback well, without becoming defensive. Doing so will open the door for your partner to hear feedback about him/herself. Decide which behaviors and/or actions you’ll both work on for the year to come and touch base periodically to see how you’re doing. How does the relationship shift over time from this practice?