Befriend The Beast of Expectations...Forever
The basis of any relationship whether personal, social, professional or business, is our “expectations.” The relationship gets over soon, goes on for sometime, lingers longer or lasts forever depends on whether the expectations are met or not and to what extent they are fulfilled: none, partial or complete. Many of us desire to have long term forever friendships, partnerships and relationships which gets better over the period of time. If somehow true and real expectations are known without ambiguity and communicated with clarity between the involved parties, then it makes every-one's life easier, leads to right decision making, helps tremendously in picking the needful correct specific desired actions and finally results in positive outcomes and happy ends.
Expectation: The “New Language” of present times
In the current age of “communications”, “social media”, connected one multi-lingual and multi-cultural World, “Expectations” is the new common language. Rather “expectations” is a “meta” language, which means “language of languages” where the meaning matters more and not the mere writings, words and sounds. Just like it is incomprehensible if someone is speaking in a foreign language such as Japanese whereas you only know English, similarly it is miscommunication when the true actual meaning and intent is not understood, named as “expectations” despite of speaking the same language. “Expectations” are the actual underneath thoughts, intentions, needs, requirements and desires which then take the medium of spoken or written words or the hand and body gestures.
Why Another Headache of this New Language of Expectations?
Now the question shoots up of why adding this new layer of “expectations” when at least one same literal language exists. And the straight forward answer is that when that is the case (of same language) then why there are still so many conflicts, between couples, friends, parents and children, landlord and tenants, clients and providers, buyers and sellers, companies and customers, employers and employees, Governments and people, and between Countries, religions and cultures. The conflicts are mainly due to “miscommunication”.
The seed of dissatisfaction ending in a dysfunctional relationship is the mismatch of expectations or rather “unmet expectations” which is caused by “Miscommunication”. The permanent fix and solution is clear, effective, meaningful, honest and comprehensive communication of expectations. The good news is that the awareness of this beast of “expectations” can prevent disagreements starting from he said-she said-you said-I said, you-did-not-mention, you-never-asked, how-would-I-assume, how-could-I-know and very easily getting converted into you-cheat, how-dare-you, leave-me-alone, get-lost, do-not-show-me-your-face, never-ever-call-me-again, give-my-money-back, to finally you-are-fired!
So this new layer of “expectation” which is “language neutral”, becomes a bridge, and raises the level of communication higher from the deadly, fatal, vulnerable, unpleasant, negative, low zones of conflicts and fights to the creative, productive, pleasant, positive, higher zones of continuously improving relationships, better understandings, effective collaborative workings and the most speediest growth and progress in the right forward direction.
How Does This Analysis Of Expectations Effect You?
You still think that all this analysis about expectations has anything to do with you, don’t you? Your life is going on and will continue to go on, despite perhaps just like everyone else you secretly crave to change it, to make it the way you want or at least bring it on the right track of the direction you want to go. Let’s probe further and you will be shocked to see this entity of expectations playing critical role in every single area of your life and effecting that area significantly, rather almost completely.
Why are you with somebody? (Personal, Private life)
Why do you call someone or make an effort to meet somebody? (Friends, Social life)
What makes you “renew” some membership? (Social or Professional or Business life)
Why do you want to work with certain people and do not want to work with others? (Professional life)
Why will you get the repeat business or not from a particular client? (Business life)
Digging the answers to the above questions will surely lead you to not only observe the root causes but also the common fundamental denominators among all different areas of personal, social, professional and business lives.
There is a clear causal - effect relationship between “expectations” and what actually happens in the end as an effect on us, and this vary effect determines the fate of relationships.
There are four possible scenarios:
- If expectations are met -> Satisfaction, Contentment.
- If expectations are exceeded -> Happiness, Bliss. The more expectations are exceeded the more the “bliss”.
- If expectations fall short but still in acceptable zone -> Dissatisfaction, Discontentment.
- If expectations is below the acceptable point -> Discontinuation, Breakage.
So to produce the desired effect the key is to know, understand, manage and work on “Expectations”.
There are four sequential stages to tame the beast of expectations:
- Know: Know the expectations. Make a list in writing if that make things crystal clear. Eliminate any ambiguity.
- Evaluate: Evaluate whether the expectations are reasonable or not.
Decide: There are only three possible decisions of evaluation phase: YES, NO or NEGOTIATE.
- YES / GO: If you think expectations are reasonable, real and justified and you can fulfil them then go ahead further. If the expectations are higher though achievable and you think that you actually fall short currently but you can raise your level higher to meet them, then you can accept the challenge and work diligently to deliver the implicit promises.
- NO / NO GO: If they are unreasonable, unreal or unjustified then do not go further.
- Negotiate: If some expectations are reasonable and others not, then you need to “set the expectations right.” This is right time and place also to “clarify” what you expect from the counterpart.
- Implement: In this phase, one has to produce at least the minimum accepted or negotiated acceptations to keep the relationship.
Stage I: Know
Stage one is knowing what someone is getting into, what will happen, something will happen as desired or not or whether it is worth giving further efforts or discontinue at certain point. Many of the times people, companies and organizations project a deceptive non-real image of themselves which is very different or in some cases completely opposite of truly “who they are.”
The purpose of this stage is to know or to somehow figure out the reality and truth of who someone really is, what are the motives, what are the expectations of that entity whether person, organization or business, what to expect from that entity and finally if there is any possibility of different outcomes than in the past or present.
Knowing can be direct where you can straightforwardly ask, “What are your expectations?” Though the answers might not be accurate or truthful. Therefore one has to become good in indirect ways such as observation of communication, opinions, behavior, past history, accomplishments, surroundings, friends, education, profession, value of words, interests, activities, aspirations, ambitions, dreams, goals for future and whether present life style is in sync with that future direction of life or not. Basically there is any substance behind the words or they are just hot air.
After some time one can know what to expect and what not to expect. One can anticipate what can be or will be or delivered. And it is safe to conclude that one knows enough. This completes the stage of “knowing” when one reaches the point of “know enough.”
Stage II: Evaluation
This is a stage when one already knows sufficiently the capabilities, personality, behavior, thinking, past and system of the other person or entity. After this stage one can even predict the future outcomes knowing the past history, and most likely the same way of “being” and “working” of somebody, the patterns and habits.
Now in this stage, you must know very clearly your expectations. That is the benchmark and basis for evaluation.
Stage III: Decision
Taking decisions become very easy after the first two stages of knowing both parties expectations, how much they matches and what are the realities, not just assumptions and perceptions. These decisions might be tough but generally right decisions if proper due diligence is done in “Knowing” phase and right judgement has been used in “Evaluation” phase not clouded by greed or mere wishful thinking.
Decisions could be “not to continue” with somebody in personal relationship, letting a mismatched employee go who is neither producing enough nor fitting into the Company’s culture, leaving an organization, not to renew certain membership or subscription or whether to persist with a continuously loss making business or not.
One can save a lot of time by reaching earlier to this decision stage. Actually the earlier one reaches, the better for that person.
Stage IV: Implementation
This stage only kicks in if the decision is of “GO” further with either the original full expectations or corrected modified ones. Actions speak louder than words. This phase really is the true and final test for a relationship to come to a screeching halt or move further in a positive spiral. Implementation might require change(s). That means some gap analysis followed by a strategy and finally an action plan.
Once one reaches the threshold “accepted” point of minimum expectations, one must strive to make things even better. Because the human nature is such that when some expectations are met, then there are new more and higher expectations.
So where there is relationship, there are expectations. This fact is an eternal truth. There are some basic fundamental common expectations and expectations can be as unique from someone as unique someone is. Rather than ignoring, resisting, fighting or hating them as burdensome curbing our freedom, we can see them positively as the opportunities of personal, social, professional or business growth. The process of fulfilment of right reasonable expectations of others and from self can keep us active, healthy, progressive, happy and loved. We need to befriend the beast of expectations and not make that our enemy.
In summary the mantra of success is: “Know and Exceed The Expectations!”