More professional and personal conflicts arise from unfulfilled expectations than anything else. Conflicts, arguments, and disagreements do, indeed, exist; however, most of them can be overcome if we learn to manage our expectations and those of others.
"Expectationville" is a place where we mentally go when we are planning and organizing other people's lives. It's great to have expectations for ourselves, but when we have them for other people, we are on thin ice. The only way to avoid experiencing a very unpleasant visit to "Expectationville" is to take a brief detour through "Communication Land."
When we place our expectations on someone else -- whether we realize it or not -- we have set up a black and white, right and wrong situation. Not only do they have to perform a certain task, but in our mind, they have to perform it the way we visualized during our trip to "Expectationville." If, indeed, we are going to set up these kinds of rigid boundaries for other people, the least we can do is to let them know where the boundary lines are located. This is accomplished when we take our trip through "Communication Land."
Have you ever planned a trip with someone else and realized early in the planning or during the trip itself that the two of you are simply "not on the same page"? This doesn't necessarily make someone else right or wrong, it simply makes them different from your expectations. If you have planned a trip and you know your flight leaves at a certain time, you may have communicated the departure time to your traveling companion; however, in your mind, you have been spending some time in "Expectationville" creating boundaries. These boundaries may say, "If the flight's at 8:00 a.m., we will want to be at the airport at 6:00 a.m.; therefore, we need to leave at 5:30." This is all clear in your mind, because everything is neat and orderly in "Expectationville," but if you and your traveling companion have not spent any time in "Communication Land," they may be thinking, "If the flight's at 8:00 a.m., we can leave for the airport at 6:30 a.m."
Either schedule might work quite well; however, you will find yourself frustrated and disappointed because your traveling companion is "late." Because of your uncommunicated expectations, you may think your traveling companion is rude, insensitive, and habitually late. They, sensing your frustration, will wonder why you have a bad attitude and what might be your problem. Today, try to eliminate expectations you have of others or commit to communicate those expectations.
Today's the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at JimStovall@aol.com.
Articles by Jim Stovall | Visit Jim Stovall's website: www.jimstovall.com | Order The Ultimate Gift from Barnes and Noble | See also Communications and Inspiration and Interestingness in The CEO Refresher Archives