“MANAGING EXPECTATIONS” seems to be one of the most popular catch phrases in the corporate world today. Indeed, it is a valid role that many consultants must play for their clients. As a real estate professional, I feel that a large part of a successful transaction is to educate my client from the very beginning, so that they know what to EXPECT as we traverse the various aspects of buying, selling, or leasing real estate. By discussing with them up front what they can expect from me, what I expect from them, the local protocol, & state laws, they get a good sense of what is going to transpire, thus eliminating some of the “fear of the unknown” factor.
Unfortunately, that is not typically the case with personal relationships. How much better would relationships be if people did just that? Let each other know their strengths, weaknesses, & what their expectations are up front from day one – sounds like a great idea to me!
However, that would go against both conventional & current wisdom, which dictates that we must “play the game.” Rules such as “Don’t show your hand”, “Don’t let them know exactly what you are thinking”, “Don’t act too needy”, “Don’t say this or that, because it will make you appear desperate”, etc. etc. ad nauseum.
So we go into the relationship, whether it is a friendship, dating, or even with siblings, parents & children, with certain expectations, only to be disappointed time & again whenever these expectations are unfulfilled. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that does have certain things that I expect from people – all people – regardless of the type of relationship.
I assume that we will be honest with each other. I expect that we will treat each other with common courtesy & respect. I anticipate that kindness will be an integral part of the relationship. I want there to be open communication. I think that there should be no disappearing acts without some sort of explanation. These are the basic premises that are mandatory for me – everything else is negotiable. However, I am some times left puzzled & non-plussed by people’s behaviors & actions when they step outside of these parameters.
In the past year, this has happened to me more than once. Each & every time, I shook my head, & wondered how anyone could be so callous as to not follow the basic tenets of what constitutes friendship at its most basic level. Afterwards, I sit back, & try to ascertain how I could have better managed my expectations. Which of the things on my list should I remove? Which one is expecting too much?? (Take note: This is not about forgiveness or lack thereof; nor is it about the realization that all people are human, & thus flawed. Those are entirely different issues.) I just think that, if we can, as human beings, come to a point where we do not have such high expectations of one another, then perhaps we will not be setting ourselves up for so much hurt, of which there is far too much in this world.
Inevitably, after hours, days or weeks of soul searching, I invariably arrive at the same conclusion, & that is that there is nothing wrong with expecting people to behave according to the Golden Rule. I dig deep & try to find it in my heart to forgive their lapses. I remember that I, too, am a flawed human being. In the end, I still hurt. But that is okay, because if we are hurting, that means that we are alive. And I happen to like living, even when it does not meet my expectations.
For 2013, I am going to try to expect nothing more than to greet each and every sunrise as if it my first one & last one, all rolled in together. If I am absorbed with the awe & excitement of a new beginning, combined with the retrospection & peace that inevitably accompanies endings, then I will not have so much time to worry about whether or not I am properly managing my expectations. I am not granting people a license or free range to discard common decency, or to walk all over me, but I am instead granting myself the freedom to not care so much if they do so. I know that I will still feel the pain, but I also know that healing will follow soon enough.