My curiosity about the impact expectations have on results was triggered by Mary Kutheis’ Minute Shift message on realistic expectations for Thanksgiving dinner. Mary is a dear friend who does exceptional work in her role as executive coach and confidant.
Expectations: conscious vs subconscious
In her Minute Shift, Mary counsels us to be realistic in our expectations. As she suggests, our expectations are often created subconsciously. They represent what we desire rather than what we can reasonably expect.
By being more conscious in setting expectations we are more likely to see the folly of any unreasonable expectations our psyche conjures up. We replace them with more reasonable expectations.
As a result, we are less likely to be blindsided by what actually happens and we’re better prepared to adapt to whatever happens. In other words, we’re more likely to act confidently and produce a more desirable result.
Expectation not enough
It isn’t enough to have an expectation, it must be communicated if we hope to get the result we desire. I know that I’ve been guilty of creating an expectation, then failing to communicate it in both my personal and professional lives.
My initial reaction is to blame the other party for not having fulfilled my expectation. The reality is that it’s my fault. Acknowledging my mistake and learning from the experience helps me avoid taking a hit to my confidence.
How we communicate our expectations is equally important. People with positional power, managers and parents, are more likely to communicate their expectations as a demand. We’ve all experienced the resistance that creates. Our employees will follow the letter of our demand even when they know it’s going to fail. Our kids dig in their heels and resist vehemently.
Even when we get what we want, we feel that the cost was too high and we’re left questioning our own ability as someone in a position of ‘power.’ That does not bode well for our confidence or self-esteem.
Conversely, when we present our expectation as something we’d like, the other party is more likely to help us…especially if we can frame our request in terms of something we know they desire. This more collaborative approach yields quicker results in a more fun, exciting way which enhances our confidence in our ability to get results.
In your interactions with others ask these questions:
- What is it that I want to happen?
- Is it reasonable to expect that result?
- Have I considered what’s in it for those whose help I need?
- Have I communicated my expectations to the other person (people)?
- If so, did I communicate my expectation in light of why it will benefit them?
For our kids
When your kids expectations aren’t met, ask them the questions listed above. They’re bright people; they’ll quickly see that it was their approach that produced disappointing results.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comment.
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