“I had expectations of you”, someone said, “Well good for you” I thought – an effective ‘put down’ often used by my late friend the poet Adrian Henri.
‘Expectations’ are an interesting concept and can be both inspiring and highly destructive.
You and I have ‘expectations’ – we have expectations of the weather (I thought it was supposed to be good this weekend!), we have expectations that if we are travelling from A to B it will take a certain time, we have expectations of how much something will cost.
You and I expect a lot of things – we can’t help it, we’ve been brought up by the culture and society we’re in to ‘expect’.
Some people expect the food they buy at a fast food outlet to look like the photo of it that’s displayed, well you would, wouldn’t you – until you know that’s never going to happen! Proper restaurants don’t have photos of what they are going to serve up – which is why it always looks good when it arrives.
Some people expect the best, some people expect the worst.
An ‘expectation’ is defined as ‘a strong belief that something will happen or be the case’ – a strong belief you will note. But it’s a close relative, very close, of that word ‘assumption’ – you know, the one that ‘makes as ass out of you and me’.
Now the thing is that to have a strong belief you usually have to have some evidence about it, and this would imply a ‘lot’ of evidence if it is to be ‘strong’.
But what evidence to people base their expectations on?
Well expectations are often, very often based on predictions, forecasts, supposition, presumptions, projections and – assumptions.
There you go!
They are not worth ‘the paper they are written on’
Except when they are written on paper.
In an employment contract, the expectation that the employee will do certain things and be rewarded by the employer is defined, as it is similarly in any other form of contract.
People contract with one another to do certain things and behave in certain ways. Expectations are even defined in a marriage or civil partnership – and for that matter in any other form of partnership agreement.
You and I can expect things of other people if, and only if, its written down and clearly defined in a contract and both parties have agreed to it.
However, we often expect things of ourselves and of other people where there is no ‘contract’, where there is nothing clearly written down and defined, even though there may be an ‘understanding’ – whatever that is.
We sometimes expect people, usually those close to us, to behave in certain ways or go along with our wishes, when we’ve not consulted them in advance or discussed what we want – expect – to do. Not a good plan – even if there is a close relationship and ‘understanding’.
Sometimes the other person just does not want to go along with our expectations or is not even aware that we have them until we ‘surprise’ them and put them off guard.
It tends to lead to degradation of the relationship if it happens too often as it causes us, when we’re surprised with too many expectations that we’re not ‘expecting’, to keep our guard up and avoid getting into situations that we might do if there were a more relaxed atmosphere.
This can be applied to any relationship – personal or business – it’s the same thing.
Being ‘surprised’ with someone else’s expectation of you that you’d not anticipated or looked for – if you weren’t on the same ‘wavelength’ at the time, can be very disconcerting and lead to a breakdown – or break up.
It’s not reasonable, even in a close relationship, to have expectations of someone else that don’t relate to something previously agreed or worse, go against something previously agreed.
Unless there is a ‘contract’.
But what about your expectations of yourself?
You and I have expectations of ourselves, how we will behave, what we will achieve, the environment we will create around us and the network of relationships, close and not so close that we will exist in.
But how often are these expectations not fulfilled?
For most people that’s most of the time.
Most people never meet the expectations they have of themselves.
Because they don’t have a contract, they don’t have an agreement, they haven’t written it down!
You and I however do write down our goals, ambitions, visions and dreams, and you and I do fulfil our expectations of ourselves – because they are defined and written down in a ‘contract’ with ourselves.
Our expectations are met, because we have agreements with ourselves, written down, that define what they are.
If you have expectations, write them down and identify the actions you need to take for them to come about.
There is no other way.
Check out your expectations and make sure they are written down, that is if you really expect them to come about.
Expect a great week!