One of the questions I ask a lot in sessions with client’s is “What do you expect the outcome of this to look like?” When I interviewed for the position I’m currently in teaching Kindergarten, when given the opportunity to ask questions, my first one was “What do you expect of me as a teacher on your staff?” When my child came home last week and needed help with another student who is well-known to be a bully and is bullying my son, I asked “What are your expectations in getting the help you need and from whom?” Expectations.
Often under-communicated or not communicated at all and most often the source for our negative feelings. Your boss doesn’t communicate the expectations of a project or says you’ll be working on the project and then changes the team assigned or the needs of that project last minute. Now time is wasted and expectations aren’t met. Your spouse comes home expecting to go out and because that wasn’t communicated, you made plans with friends, cooked a meal, changed into pajamas, etc. Unmet expectations lead to an argument, resentment, irritation or anger. Your child expects to be taken to the park today but you have a lot going on and errands to run. “Sorry buddy, no time today”…and the academy award for best tantrum thrown goes to….
So what’s the answer? Drop the expectations altogether? Lower them? No. The answer is to communicate.
See, there’s an expectation at the top of the ladder and there’s a behavior at the bottom. With every communicative interaction, every clarifying comment, the behavior moves up a rung. The result is a lessened gap that would’ve otherwise been filled with only negativity- resentment, anger, frustration, irritation, blame, shame, guilt, you get the idea.
Ask clarifying questions.
With your boss: What does the outcome of this look like to you? How much time do you expect this to take? How many children will be in my class at the beginning of the year? How much are you prepared to offer me now as opposed to three years from now?
With your spouse: What’s it like to be with me right now? What are your expectations for this weekend, this holiday, this time together? What are your expectations for the roles we play? What does that look like exactly?
With your children: As they get older, you can ask them questions tailored to their needs like the ones above but as my own son was getting older, I found it quite helpful each day to run through the schedule of the day. “We will do this many things. IF those things get done, we will…” This taught him responsibility and that doing work came first because that’s what put food in his mouth and clothes on his back. That philosophy still works to this day. As I write this, he came in and said “You said you had 12 things to do before we could go. How many do you have left?” 8. And he went on his merry way…happy little lark.
Many people want to jump into my coaching without getting on a clarity/strategy call first. This is the exact reason I don’t let that happen! I need to make sure that you know exactly what coaching sessions look like for you, what you get when you work with me and to know if I can even help you. I can and do help a lot of people but I’m definitely not arrogant enough to think I can help everyone. I coach because I want you to have the help you need, not to take your money and “do my best”. Even typing that makes me sick to my stomach but there are coaches out there that are like that. Additionally, I need to know what that perfect life of passionate purpose looks like to you. What do you expect to get out of coaching? Coaching collapses so much time for you and is worth every penny but I need you to feel that way when you up-level and move on from me as well.
Also know though that you don’t have to wait for others to ask you those questions. Voice your expectations early and often. What does this situation look like to you? What do you expect for this? By voicing those expectations, standing up for your value and worth in every situation that involves you and letting others know how you feel, it gives them the ability to move their behavior up the ladder too.
People genuinely want to please others. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “I think I’ll disappoint xy and z today.” It happens through a lack of communication. The more you communicate, the less negativity you feel. Isn’t that the end goal anyway?