Expectations – How Well Do You Handle Them?
Do you have expectations of anyone in your life?
Do others in your life have expectations of you?
Do you have certain expectations of yourself?
Today, we will look at some (not all) aspects of expectations. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines expectation as “The act or state of expecting”.
For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on expectations on a person-to-person basis.
First, let’s break it down into two common types of expectations:
- Realistic expectations – these are what reasonable people would put in place on a person-to-person basis. These types of expectations are those that operate on a common sense basis. An example would be a teacher at a school, having a duty of care toward their student. The parents of the students have an expectation of this teacher to provide their child with formal education. Another example could be domestic duties that are shared. A husband could do the washing while the wife is preparing lunch. With realistic expectations, there is a mutual understanding between the two parties. There are lesser chances of conflict in realistic expectations, when communicated properly.
- Unrealistic expectations – this is where conflicts can arise. To avoid this happening, please ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you projecting your values upon someone else? For example, a father of a teenage boy might want his son to study for 3 hours each night after school. Why? That is what he did when he was a boy at school.
- Does the person you are expecting from have the time or resources required to meet this commitment? – For example, a manager asking their staff member to do something that the staff member is not capable of. Or, the staff member does not have the resources required to complete the task.
- Are you seeing others as capable as you are? – Tony Robbins wrote something very emphatic. He said “In a relationship, never expect your partner to have your strengths”. That is very liberating advice indeed!
Here are a few suggestions for you, regarding expectations:
- Keep your expectations realistic – by doing so, you will be less likely to be disappointed. Ask yourself “Is this fair on the other person? Why? Why not?”
- Have empathy for others – I have written this before, and I will say it again – “Empathy is a very powerful projection tool because it allows us to be more human”. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. See the expectation from their frame of reference.
- Communicate openly – if you have expectations of someone, communicate your expectation to them, and ask for genuine feedback. That way, you both will learn, and lessen the likelihood of conflict.
- Communicate openly again – if someone has expectations of you, communicate your thoughts/feelings/concerns to them openly and diplomatically. This is very important in personal relationships and at work (especially between manager and subordinate). When I was delivering Corporate Coaching, there were many clients who believed that their manager had unrealistic expectations. Yet, they never openly communicated their belief to the manager. Conflict became almost unavoidable.
- Create confidence – if you have a realistic expectation of someone, communicate your confidence to them. This will be a massive morale booster for them. For example, if a sports coach has an expectation of the team captain to lead by example, something along the lines of “I know what a strong leader you are, and the whole team looks up to you for your leadership skills and strength” would do wonders for the team captain’s confidence.
Dr Michael Broder (author of the best-seller Stage Climbing) who is a friend/mentor of mine, wrote something very enlightening about expectations:
Sometimes, expectations can be perfectly healthy metrics for making sense of your world. But expectations are also premeditated disappointments! So should you find yourself feeling disappointed, dissatisfied or stressed out, reflect first on your expectations — especially those predictably unrealistic ones you may be putting on yourself and others in your life. The good news is that changing your expectations is practically always doable. In fact, it’s often the only part of a given situation that you can reliably control.
Dr Broder is spot on in saying that you can control your expectations.
Whether you have expectations of others or others have expectations of you, there is a lot you can do to make life easier for both parties.
Remember, communicating openly can create a level playing field!
Quote: “Turn your expectations into appreciation.” Tony Robbins
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can handle expectations (both ways) in a more productive manner.
Influencing you to your excellence,
PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video celebrates a massive milestone (Episode number 50) – https://youtu.be/U4uVI3KKTlY