Make Happy Relationships your Business!

Post Written By: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

I was recently chatting with a friend who said that it upsets him when his romantic partner is too “business-like” in their relationship. I asked him what he meant by “business-like” and he said that when his partner initiates “relationship check-ins”  on a regular basis (e.g., conversations focused on how the relationship is going) things start to feel, in his experience, too “business-y” and he worries that the passion between them will fizzle out as a result.

Now, this blog post is not an analysis of my friend’s situation specifically! Rather, my chat with him simply served as an inspiration for this post. In particular, after my conversation with him I got to thinking: what would happen if we pulled some of our business/workplace skills into our romantic relationships? Would we all be living with cold, emotionally distant, passionless partners? Would being a bit more “business-like” in our love lives really kill all the spark?

Personally, I think not (sorry, friend!) and here’s why:

  • We’re better listeners at work: Generally speaking, when we’re at work we’re less likely to jump on the offensive/defensive when something doesn’t go our way or there’s a disagreement taking place.  If your boss does something that frustrates you, I bet it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll spend the day stomping around the office, slamming doors, and telling your boss that if she doesn’t already know what she did to upset you, you’re not telling...  When we have our “at work” hats on, more often than not, we’re better able to slow down our reactions, communicate our thoughts and feelings clearly, acknowledge multiple points of view, focus on creating understanding between parties, and ultimately work with others towards successful conflict resolution.
  • We’re better at goal-setting and follow-through at work: At work, we know what needs to get done and we’re usually pretty good at doing it because the last thing we want to feel is the stress of our manager chasing us down for an unfinished report that was due weeks ago.  In the workplace, we actively strive to manage our time and prioritize tasks well, which often means setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals.  We have regular meetings with managers and colleagues to discuss our progress on various projects – we communicate what we’ve accomplished and ask for help when we run into barriers.  At work, we’re in an ongoing process of planning, taking action, communicating, and revising which means that we’re often more intentional, and less habitual, in our actions on the job.
  • We make time to give and receive feedback at work: Performance reviews are a standard workplace practice.  At work, we have dedicated times to discuss how things are going from the perspectives of all parties.  Employees are often asked to review their own performance, in addition to receiving feedback from their managers, which encourages purposeful reflection about what we’re doing well and where we can make improvements in our own work.  As well, at work we engage in professional development activities so that we can continuously contribute to our teams and ultimately be valued by our co-workers and managers.  We don't expect to be experienced positively by our colleagues simply by showing up at our desk.

Typically speaking, in our intimate relationships, we don’t put the same type of effort into regulating our emotions, setting clear intentions to serve as the foundation for our actions, building understanding between individuals, and prioritizing time to communicate openly and honestly about how things are going for everyone involved like we do in our work lives. If we transferred some of our "business-y" skills into our personal relationships, I don’t think we’d end up living loveless lives – quite the opposite.  I think we’d end up in more fulfilling, emotionally engaging relationships if we made it our business to do so.

I'd love to hear what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment below! :)