Such cynicism is totally contrary to my character and requires a bit of explanation. In truth, the problem is not “great expectations” but unreasonable expectations and even more often, expectations that have not been clearly communicated.
This phenomenon is not isolated to business. I believe that in all relationships, those with siblings, parents, children, spouses, employees and supervisors, the most frequent cause of resentment and anger is a failure to meet expectations. They didn’t do what we expected them to do. Investigation usually uncovers that these unmet expectations were not clearly communicated. And rarely, if ever, was there discussion concerning the reasonableness of the expectations.
How often have you become aware that you have disappointed someone only to discover that their expectation differed from what you anticipated -- or worse, was something you knew nothing about? On the other hand, how often have you taken for granted that someone understood what you expected (even though you never took the time to explain) and become upset when the expectation wasn’t met?
The surprising thing about expectations is that they can often be negotiated. When we learn to openly communicate our expectations with willingness to compromise, there is usually an acceptable middle ground. Negotiating expectations can have a very powerful, positive impact on relationships and is likely to result in a much higher rate of success in work and at home.
Here are some tips to help you avoid having great expectations turn into great disappointments.
1. Always seek clarity regarding what others expect of you.
2. Be open concerning how reasonable the expectations from others feel to you.
3. Never underestimate your ability to negotiate expectations.
4. Share openly and directly what you expect of others and be willing to negotiate those as well.
5. Expectations that are challenging will lead to increased effort and improvement.
6. Expectations that are unreasonably high lead to frustration and negativity.
Remember, expectations travel on a two-way street. Don't get broadsided.