UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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June 2014: “Lessons in Recalculation from our GPS”

This might sound like an odd practice for cultivating healthy relationships, but have you ever noticed how GPS systems in our cars react when we make a mistake? In paying attention to these subtleties, there may be some lessons that we can learn about how to work with others particularly around breakdowns. Lesson number 1#: Focus on the facts. When we make a wrong turn, our GPS simply makes note of it without beating us up, commenting or questioning why we made the mistake. Lesson #2: Focus on the desired outcome. Instead of trying to redo what went wrong, our GPS stays connected with what we want – the end destination and recalculates the directions so that we arrive hopefully safely and relatively on time. Lesson #3: Use a neutral tone. No matter how many wrong turns we make, our GPS communicates calmly each time in a neutral voice, enabling us to in turn calmly navigate our way. If these strategies help effectively solve breakdowns in the car, imagine how they might be used in our day-to-interactions with each other.

In the next month, practice incorporating these lessons into your interactions with your partners when breakdowns happen. Notice if any of the lessons feel particularly challenging for you and allow yourself to be a beginner, practicing them and observing yourself, your partner, and the overall tone of the conversation while doing so. Note what you liked and what you want to do differently moving forward. Notice how being intentional with this conversation changes the result for everyone involved.


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