Tell ’em What You Want, What you Really Really Want
A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though awakens your own expectations. ~Patricia Neal
I have had several discussions in the past week regarding communicating expectations. An essential element to good communication and relationships is knowing what your expected or desired outcome of a situation is and communicating that to those people involved, whether they are co-workers, a spouse, children or complete strangers. First you must realize what your expectations are. What is your expected outcome? What do you hope to achieve?
Before you communicate expectations to anyone else you must know yourself. That means you must take the time to have a “conversation” with yourself. This step covers the “what” of your expectations. Think about the relevant situation or event. Think about what you want to achieve as a result. Use that information and record it in as much detail so can communicate your message clearly to someone else. Write it down if you have to, but make sure you know in vivid detail what you want.
Too often people are frustrated or angry when things don’t go as planned. Parents snap at their children because of inappropriate behaviors in restaurants or formal social settings. I will ask, “Did you tell them your expectations before you got there?” The response I here the most frequently is “They know what I expect.” Do you ever ask the person you are communicating with if they clearly understand what you expect? I’ll bet you don’t. Do you know the expectations others have of you? Do you ever ask?
Every situation we enter, each individual involved has their own expectations. They have expectations of the others involved, they have expectations of the desired results from the others involved, and they have their own base of expectations of themselves. But these thoughts and feeling are rarely communicated. Yet they can drastically affect our impression of a situation.
I will start most coaching conversations, classes, and workshops I have with asking what the participants expectations are. Then I explain what my expectations are of them. I believe in getting it out on the table right away. When I notice my 3 year old is not doing what I would like him to do I will ask him, “What are you supposed to be doing?” I find out that I get less frustrated when he is unclear on his expectations. So I start there and we discuss what he thinks he should be doing. And I correct or agree with accordingly. Then we can create a plan.
This type of clarification needs to happen in all aspects of our lives. We all are different. We do the same things, but have different desired outcomes or purposes for doing things. Men and women both go shopping. Men go to buy a particular item. We go find the item, we buy the item. For men it is about the kill. Women go shopping for the experience. Women enjoy the hunt. Same activity, way different expectations.
Managing expectations – yours and those of others – is an important part of our every day life. Defining expectations with your children, spouse, boss, yourself, co-workers and customers/ clients will lead to a greater satisfaction and productivity. Understanding the most effective ways to communicate your expectations, and to understand those of others, is the best solution for overall success in any endeavor or relationship.