The Oxford dictionary defines disappointment as “sadness or displeasure caused by the non fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” In short, disappointment is unmet expectations. In our daily life, we can be disappointed in our self, spouse, kids, boss, team members, service providers, healthcare…well, just about everything and everyone!
We wake up with expectations for the day, and we impose them on others without even knowing it. It is these expectations that can cause conflict and displeasure, especially when you have unrealistic ones. For instance, if your spouse is a slob, and you expect him to pick up his underwear off the floor today even though he hasn’t during your entire marriage, you just set yourself up to be disappointed. In this scenario, you are to blame.
When you expect turtles to fly, you are wanting something to happen that is impossible, and by expecting it to happen anyway, you suffer. The turtle does what turtles do, and they don’t fly, and when we stop expecting them to, we manage expectations in a healthier manner, and we ultimately will be happier.
Much of the conflict we experience in personal and professional relationships is caused by unmet expectations. You expect a team member to deliver their part of the project on time, but they don’t. You expect your boss to acknowledge the hard work you did, but she says nothing. You expect your kids to clean up their room, but you have to constantly nag them.
At the root of all these stressful situations is our own expectations, and if we want more peace and harmony, we need to explore those expectations to determine if they are fair and reasonable. Why do we look at ourselves and not demand more from others? Because we don’t have control over others. We can only manage our own emotions.
In the workplace, certain expectations are made of everyone to perform the job they were hired to do. Executing that principle on a regular basic gets muddy quick because who decides what is fair and acceptable? To the team member who was late delivering their part, they may have had too much on their plate already. Or, they may never deliver on time, and it is on you to adjust the schedule accordingly.
As consumers, we should get what we pay for, but that is becoming more difficult every day. We can bang our heads against the wall and claim it is wrong all we want, but at some point, we will just need to adjust our expectations. And when we can, we take our business to those who will actually keep their promises and deliver on time.
Businesses need to take note here. A huge opportunity exists for those who manage customer expectations properly with communication. People are much more willing to work with what they know, but when you don’t return calls or inform of delays, unmet expectations cause unnecessary tension that could have been avoided.
Personally and professionally, learning how to change your expectations takes some effort, but with a coach like me who administers assessments and offers insights into developing your emotional intelligence, we can reduce stress in your life. When allow turtles to be turtles and don’t expect them to fly, everyone wins. Ready to improve all your relationships? Give me a call today.
You can also work through my book, I Want My Life Back!, and get more strategies for setting healthy boundaries.