Well, what did you expect?
What expectations do you have of other people?
What do you expect of your partner, kids, parents and siblings? What do you expect of your friends? What do you expect of your work colleagues, team, manager or shareholders?
Expectations lead to a whole range of negative emotions, from disappointment to anxiety and depression. And you don’t need them.
Say I’m your manager and I say to you, without discussion, perhaps by email: “I expect you to get that report to me by Friday”, how would you feel? If you’re like most people you would feel a mild to moderate tensing in your body as you go into defense mode, and a part of you would want to rebel. We’re really not built to meet the expectations of others!
This is an explicit example, but every day people walk around holding all sorts of expectations of others.
And there are really only two outcomes when we have an expectation of someone else:
The expectation is met. Well, that’s nice, but hardly exciting or pleasurable. I expected it, so, so what?
The expectation is not met. We feel disappointed, hurt, anxious for the conversation we feel we now need to have, fearful of future expectations not being met and so on.
You can drop having expectations. It puts you back in control of your life rather than subject to it. It means you have to take responsibility rather than being at the mercy of others.
But what to do if something isn’t going as you would like it to?
Create an agreement.
That doesn’t mean: “I’d like you to agree to get the report to me by Friday” 😄
More like: “Could we talk about when the report will be finished. I’d like to create an agreement with you that works for both of us.” Then get to work on negotiating a co-created agreement - it’s more fun and it removes all expectations and the associated stress that goes with them.
In work life expectations create stress and anxiety and it becomes very hard to build trust in a team. This is amplified in our personal lives - especially with our partners and family. In particular, watch for the expectations you have about how other people should make you feel. Remember that where there are expectations, the other person is likely to rebel and you will achieve the exact opposite to what you really want.
If you notice you have an expectation of someone else, there are two empowering options:
Let it go. Drop the expectation
Create an agreement
Watch out this week for moments where you are caught by an expectation. Notice any times you are feeling irritated, annoyed, hurt or disappointed. Check with yourself, did you have an expectation on how someone else would behave?
This article is part of 100 Days of Creation, my challenge to myself to write 100 articles in 140 days, each taking no longer than 30 minutes to write and publish.