How Do You Manage Expectation?

How Do You Manage Expectation?

Please help me welcome Stacey Hebert, our Guest Author today! Stacey recently moved to Bali (how cool is that!) She is tackling an interesting topic today, managing expectations.

“Life is so constructed that an event does not,
cannot, will not, match the expectation.”
~ Charlotte Bronte

Recently I’ve been learning a lot about the burden of expectation, and coming to understand that if/when we get a realistic handle on it, our lives are infinitely a lot smoother and a little less disappointment-laden.

Example:  You go to an expensive restaurant, order a steak and fine glass of merlot and sit in hungry anticipation of the feast that is to come. 60 minutes later out comes a stringy tough cut of meat and a sour glass of wine. You’re disappointed, annoyed even. You had the expectation that at these prices the food and wine would be top rate, and served swiftly on a hot plate by a smiling waiter!

But they’ve let you down; your expectations haven’t been met. You won’t be tipping and you won’t be coming back.

Chances are, unless you’re vocal and make a complaint the establishment won’t even know how poorly they’ve performed that night and that they failed to meet your expectations.

But what about in a different situation, a situation where the level of expectation is even higher, but even more unspoken?

Friendship anyone…..

Example: You discuss going into business with a friend, you tell them your idea and start brainstorming how you can work together. Then this ‘friend’ goes behind your back and starts this business, based on YOUR ideas, doesn’t tell you and you find out via a 3rd party that you have been completely excluded.

Now it’s a different story, right?

You’re disappointed, hurt, confused and angry. This was your friend; they were supposed to have some respect for you. This was your idea, now they’ve stolen it and you feel stabbed in the back. You can hardly believe it and you totally didn’t expect it!

Your belief in this person and your friendship has been shattered and your unspoken expectation that they would treat you in the same way you would treat them has not been met.

So what do you?

Stay silent, confront them in person with your righteous indignation, or plan your revenge? It’s a toughie ha!

Despite what the personal development gurus’ and enlightened ones tell us about having no expectations of anything; like the Buddhist premise that there is “no good or bad, and every situation is neutral, only given meaning by how we choose to interpret it”. As humans, I don’t think expectation is something we can really help having.

This ‘trigger quick’ analysis often informs how we make decisions, and becomes part of our survival tool kit.

More often than not expectations are unspoken, based on our own moral compass, value system and what WE would do if faced with the same situation.

However, experience has taught me that quite often and usually without malicious intention, people will let you down, disappoint you, disrespect you even; and your expectation of them and how they should behave, will not be met.

So I have a couple of questions:

  • How do you manage expectation in your life and what do you do about the people and situations that don’t meet your expectations?
  • How do you manage people’s expectations of YOU? What do you do when knowingly or otherwise you seriously let them down?

Your thoughts and advice on this most touchy but universal of human experience, is very – expected!

photo credit: Kevin Dooley

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