UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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August 2013: “Cultivating Deposits in our Emotional Bank Account: Clarifying Expectations”

I’m sure each of us has had personal experience with relationship breakdowns where unspoken expectations were the cause. We forget that no one is a mind reader and assume our partner knows ‘what they need to do’ or ‘how they need to be.’ Often trust is lost as a result. In learning how to have skillful conversations about our expectations up front, we can circumvent future breakdowns and deepen our relationships. Unless you are in a supervisor/subordinate relationship where there are solid job expectations, creating expectations together about how you’ll be in partnership can be a softer, less punitive way to frame this conversation.

See the attached worksheet with exercises and suggestions for how to prepare for and engage in this conversation. In thinking about your existing partnerships, identify one that could benefit from this type of conversation. Perhaps it’s one where you have experienced a recent breakdown or one where you haven’t but you want to be proactive for the future. Also, if you’re venturing into a new relationship, consider having this conversation with your partner as way to get to know what matters to each of you on a deeper level. Notice any shifts that show up as a result of this conversation.

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