“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”
Brandon Sanderson, American author
Have your relationships ever suffered because of the expectations that you had of other people? Or maybe you made a premature move because of your career expectations and sabotaged your progress. If so, you’re not alone!
About This Week’s Chat
When: January 17 @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT / 11:30 p.m. IST)
Managing Your Expectations
The Relationship Expectation Minefield
I found it quite hard to adapt after I got married the first time. What made it harder was that I had a whole list of expectations about my husband.
I expected him to be as disciplined as my dad was when it came to routine tasks. He wasn’t. I also expected him to be a deep thinker – which he wasn’t (yet). But the biggest issue was that I expected him to apologize after we had an argument.
For me, his version of “I’m sorry” just didn’t cut it. Looking back now, I know there was nothing wrong with the way he apologized. It just didn’t match my expectations of how “sorry” should look and feel. Time and again it would lead to a brand new argument that started with, “If you say sorry like that, don’t even bother to say it!”
Of course, at the time I didn’t have the knowledge or self-awareness to realize that it was not my husband’s behavior that had caused the issues, but my expectations. However, that realization only came with maturity.
Expectations About Work Relationships
Relationships at work can also suffer if you have very specific expectations about how people should respond to you, or how they should behave in certain situations.
I’m not referring to acceptable and unacceptable behavior here. I mean the expectations we sometimes have that other people should behave in exactly the same way that we do.
If you expect a colleague who’s not a “morning person” to give you a bright and cheery high-five every morning, for example, you’re bound to be disappointed. Or, if you expect a quiet, introverted colleague to “shout it from the rooftops” when something great happens, it’s just not going to happen.
Instead, we need to accept people as they are, not as we want them to be.
Do You Expect Too Much of Yourself?
Maybe it has something to do with the era I grew up in, but we were taught to have extremely high expectations of ourselves. You had to excel in everything you did.
That mindset spilled over into my work life, and I “translated” it into putting in extremely long hours. If I didn’t work a 12- or 14-hour day, I felt disappointed in myself.
I also had very high expectations about my career progression. I believed that if I didn’t get promoted within two years of starting a company then I wasn’t working hard enough.
And, if I didn’t do everything to the highest possible standard it simply wasn’t good enough. My expectations of myself were so high that I sometimes struggled to live in my own skin.
Flying Too High
As a child, the story of Icarus’ wings fascinated me. I thought he was really stupid to go flying too high with wings that weren’t properly attached.
Unfortunately, I saw it often in the workplace. People “fly too high” financially but later on they struggle to afford their lifestyle.
Others expect to progress through the ranks quicker than is warranted, causing them to act – ironically – in a way that actually sabotages their career prospects. I’ve also seen more than a few people resign because they’ve become resentful of their lack of progression. Only for them to realize much later that quitting was a very poor career decision.
Managing Your Expectations
In our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week we’re going to talk about managing your expectations.
In a recent Twitter poll, we asked you about the areas of life where you believe you need to learn to manage your expectations better. Forty-four percent of participants said that they needed to manage their career expectations more carefully, while 33 percent wanted to change their expectations of how they were rewarded. (You can see all of the poll results here.)
Ahead of our Twitter chat on Friday, we want to get you thinking even more about how you manage your expectations. So we’ve put together some questions to help you prepare:
- What expectations do you have of your role/your career progression?
- What expectations do you have of your manager or leader and their behavior?
- How realistic are your expectations?
- What have you learned from disappointments?
- How have you managed others’ expectations of you?
- Which expectations do you need to manage better? Why?
To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve also compiled a list of resources for you to take a look at (some of them may only be available to members of the Mind Tools Club):
Avoiding Managerial Self-Sabotage
Coaching to Develop Self-Awareness
How to Manage Controlling People
Asking for Help
Stop Playing the “Blame Game”
How to Learn From Your Mistakes
Dweck’s Fixed and Growth Mindsets
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on our tweet chat this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat.
To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your response.