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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromcait: Are You Exhausted Trying To Meet Other People's Assumed Expectations?

Are you always trying to meet other people’s expectations, even when those expectations may not be completely clear? Unclear expectations for a role, whether that be in relation to a job or a relationship, can reduce feelings of psychological safety and increase the potential for burnout. In today’s #straightfromcait episode, Cait explains the research behind why external expectations and role ambiguity play a role in burnout and how to ask for clarity when it is lacking.

When you are having to guess at someone’s expectations, you will end up feeling on edge and pushing yourself harder and harder trying to reach that unspecified goal. Research shows that role ambiguity, or a lack of clarity in your job role, can come into play not only at work, but also within relationships at home and with friends. When you are able to predict how another person will react and set up expectations for yourself relative to that predicted outcome, your feelings of safety will increase and your risk of burnout will decrease. By simply having a conversation that focuses on clarifying and setting expectations, you can improve overall communication and increase your own internal feelings of safety.

It is exhausting trying to meet expectations all the time, especially if the expectations you are trying to meet are unclear or simply a guess on your part. In order to gain clarity, improve your relationships, and reduce overall stress, it is important to communicate effectively. Tune into this week’s #straightfromcait episode for a conversation about how to determine other’s actual expectations. Learn why assuming other’s expectations can lead to burnout and how to ask for clarity.


Maslach et. al. (2001). Job burnout. Annu Rev Psychol. 52. 397-422.


“If you are feeling unclear about someone's expectations, and you are guessing at them, and you never quite get feedback on whether or not you're hitting the target, you're always going to feel on edge. And you're always going to push for doing things a little bit harder, a little bit more intense, to a better degree, to a higher degree. It'll never stop because you don't know when you've met the expectation.” (3:54-4:20 | Cait)

Burnout recovery happens when we increase our feelings of safety internally and externally.” (5:41-5:46 | Cait)

You are more likely to experience burnout while also experiencing role ambiguity, a lack of clarity in your job role.” (7:06-7:14 | Cait)

Sharing with someone what your thinking is behind the situation gives them a better idea of how you're looking at it and what's happening in your world, so that they can respond appropriately.” (10:33-10:44 | Cait)




If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today:


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