Unmanageable expectations

Unmanageable expectations

(#27 of our Together-Ensemble sessions)

In this session of ‘Together-Ensemble’, we focused on the need to tackle paradoxical injunctions.

In particular, since the COVID-19 crisis, it has become increasingly difficult to manage all expectations.

And this has led and continues to lead many of us to experience guilt, overwork or, burnout.

During this session we discussed the weight on individual responsibility, that society and some of our peers impose on us.

Today, as a society, we need to reflect on how we could release people from this arbitrary pressure, and give time to engage in societal responsibility initiatives.

Because, from research, we know that this is what would give them a sense of worth, in times of planetary emergency, to feel that they “belong”.


Yenny Gorce, who wrote the Petit guide pratique pour réussir l’inclusion en entreprise (Little Practical Guide to Successful Inclusion in Business) and Director of the Association Vivre et Travailler Autrement (Live and Work Differently),

Maud Ogier, Assistant to the Secretary-General of COMECE – the Commission of Episcopates of the European Union, or in other words, ‘The Catholic Church in the European Union,

Julie Guégan (yes me!), expert in collaboration, consultant for the Commission, speaker and author.


These stories inspired about 60 colleagues to identify the solutions to achieve a more caring culture. 

  • Teach compassion & empathy – we are not alone – everyone faced his/her own difficulties – Be kind to yourself, do your best but know your limits and don’t feel guilty if you are not a superhero! To offer help and be proactive in offering often to people in need. Emotional intelligence: listen compassionately to people talking about their situation/experience and let them express this before leaping in with problem solving ideas.
  • More caring society and by government institutions: Sometimes our expectations are not truly ours, but they are society’s expectations…should it be so? Certain effects are deeper than we think and might persist or manifest over time, so we need a culture of care and solidarity. We need to strengthen social connections at local level to start with. Do volunteering, for instance. And have a corporate social responsibility strategy in your organisation. Highlight in your intranet the colleagues already involved in solidarity actions in the community (or in the world)
  • Role of leaders & managers to support the team building/spirit with concrete actions. Not easy as people in the power positions don’t want to give up their advantages. But we still have to try. To show empathy when taking decisions at high levels to let colleagues do things (eg working from abroad) that can let them happy and not depressed (in COVID-19 difficult times). They need to be able to understand both sides before taking decisions that would harm people even more, in crisis time.
  • Deep change in society and culture as well as values. Advance social and human rights: the state of permacrisis provides also opportunities to make the changes we need.
  • Tribe skills are necessary to survive. Social intelligence compulsory at school
  • Know yourself better: Take the struggles we have as opportunities. know your intrinsic self-worth as a way of resisting societal expectations.
  • Strong incentives to show that certain behaviours are not accepted – in particular, if companies or bosses do things wrong and unethically.
  • Avoid the term “fair” as to a common definition of what is unmanageable while working towards policies that change society in light of the EU enshrined values.

Related links:

Compassion in Politics

Next article about “Addiction: the need to be cared for”, another powerful session to equip people with the knowledge to improve self-care in chaotic times.

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