—- Ruthie Hast, M.Ed., LPC
Expectations are how we hope or anticipate life will be.
They encompass all areas of our lives—our work, our relationships, the way our life will unfold. They play a major part in how our goals and general life direction are formed. They’re how we are able to envision our future.
Some interesting things you may not have considered about expectations:
1. We all have them.
Part of our enjoyment of any given activity is its anticipation, and the picture in your head that forms around the anticipation is your expectation. Our past experiences, hopes, and dreams can be a major part of forming our expectations, as well.
2. They can be conscious or unconscious.
When you think you don’t have any particular expectations it’s because they are unconscious—unknown to, or unrealized by you. If your expectations are unconscious, you might not understand why you suddenly experience a negative emotion for no apparent reason. If you know what they are you’re less likely to be caught by surprise when they’re not met.
3. They can be reasonable or unreasonable.
A reasonable expectation is one that is based in fact, and not just on one’s hopes or wishes. If your expectations are unreasonable, you will continually have them frustrated, since they most likely won’t be met. If expectations are examined and found to be unreasonable they can always be readjusted.
4. They can be stated or unstated.
When we’re aware of them, it’s a good idea to tell the people they’ll affect what our expectations are. As a professor of mine routinely said, “Have the conversation.” We can’t produce what we don’t know is expected of us.
5. They can cause problems when they are not met, or they conflict with others’ expectations.
When they are unconscious, unreasonable, or unstated, our expectations are more likely to go unmet, and result in misunderstanding, conflict, and anger. When we’re careful to discover our expectations, determine whether or not they’re reasonable, and let others know what they are, we can often avoid what can sometimes feel like “surprise attacks” and damage to relationships.
6. When conscious, reasonable, and stated, they can be powerful motivators.
In every relationship one’s clearly-stated, reasonable expectations become goals others can aim for. Generally, our employees, students, mates, friends, children, and other family members want to please us. When they understand what we expect from them, they know what to try to achieve, don’t have to waste time and effort trying to figure it out, and enjoy our thanks rather than our disappointment.
Now take these six bits of information about your expectations and go discover them, examine whether they’re reasonable (you might need some help with this one!), and make them known to the people they affect. You’ll be surprised how this will help to simplify your interactions with the people in your life.
Ruthie Hast, M.Ed., LPC is a partner at Encore life Skills. Ruthie provides counseling, coaching and training and consulting with Everything DiSC. You can contact Ruthie at firstname.lastname@example.org