Great expectations

I take my work very seriously. I take pride in what I do and want to do the very best I can. If there is a portion of my job I’m not good at I want to do what I can to improve my skillset in that area. A portion of my job is to supervise. I have supervised in the past, and have acted as a mentor and advanced resource to my colleagues in other positions, but being a supervisor is something I haven’t had a lot of formal training in, so since my place of employment offers courses in the subject I’ve been taking as many training sessions as I can.

One common theme is emerging: Setting expectations.

If I expect something of you and you don’t deliver what I expected, but I never told you that I had that expectation, then is it fair of me to be mad at you when you fail in my eyes?

Our feelings are fair to have, but if you don’t set someone up for success then chances are they will inadvertently fail you.

A scenario, if you will: I expect you to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home, because this morning I was making sandwiches for your lunch and ended up using the last of the bread. You see in your lunch that one of your sandwiches is a crust sandwich (the sandwich using the beginning and end pieces of the loaf). But I never explicitly asked you to get that loaf of bread. I’m perfectly capable of getting that loaf of bread myself and I didn’t specifically mention that I used the last of the bread on your sandwiches today. You come home from work after a long day, expecting that I will make you sandwiches for the next day, but you didn’t bring home any bread.

Murky double-fault/no-fault/depends who you ask situation there.

Excuses I could come up with to blame you for this situation: I make the sandwiches so why should I have to buy the bread? I make the sandwiches with double-crust to signal it’s the end of the loaf, so why should I have to say anything? You’re a mind reader and you know when I am throwing away the bread wrapper that I don’t already have a second loaf of bread in the kitchen, even though you know I’ve been to the store at least three times this week because I brought home other groceries three different days this week.

I think you get the point of how assuming without setting expectations up front can lead to a lot of ridiculously stupid assumptions on the other end of something as simple as sandwiches for lunch.

I’m just curious where you are in the Expectations cycle. Are you still expecting without communicating your expectations? Or have you figured out that the secret to successful communication is to clearly state your expectations, make sure the person on the other end of those expectations is willing to agree to those expectations, and you both follow through with your part of the expectations?

8 thoughts on “Great expectations

  1. My expectations for people are so dreadfully low now-a-days that I don’t even get upset any more. Meeting somebody at 10:00 and they show up at 10:45? Whatever. Somebody shows up and doesn’t bring what they said they would? Whatever. Somebody says that they will do something and they don’t? Whatever.

    However… in the example you gave, I wouldn’t automatically buy the bread. How am I to know that you won’t be picking it up? If we BOTH bought bread, then we’d end up with too much. I would notice that my sandwich was made with ends though, and would call to tell you that I was picking it up if you hadn’t gotten it already.

  2. Exactly! Everyone has expectations. If they aren’t communicated, then the end result might luckily, by chance, magically be what both people were hoping for, but most likely someone or everyone will be disappointed.

    It finally dawns on me that I get mad at people for failing to meet my expectations when I never made my expectations clear in the first place. And I’m going to do my best to not do that anymore. And I hope people will take the time to set their expectations with me as well. And even if we still fail to meet someone else’s expectations at least we knew it was expected of us in the first place.

  3. This is a big thing. In so many situations I think that we fail to to just come out and ask for what we want. I think women in particular are guilty of this because we tend to be more intuitive and to be people pleasers. We expect men to be the same way when they just don’t think the same way we do.

    Whether it’s work or another type of relationship, I say spell it out, even if it seems unnecessary.

    Never ASSume. Never!

  4. I am a firm advocate of open, honest communication. If you want a person to know something, tell them. And let them know that you expect the same of them. It might be more difficult at that moment sometimes, but it’s so much easier in the long run.

    As you know.

  5. I’m very clear about my expectations, I make them known. But to a degree, I’m bitter about it. I think there is a responsibility on others to attempt to learn and anticipate. I do, why can’t they?

    But no, if you don’t inform folks you can only be so aggravated if they don’t. IMO.

  6. I’m pretty clear with what I want/ expect/ need about 99% of the time, mostly because I’m impatient and think If I DON’T say anything, we’ll both end up crazy or angry. Also, because I’m impatient and don’t like having silly arguments where assumptions were made. :)

  7. I’m working on this whole communication/assumption thing.

    As soon as I think all of this therapy is finally paying off, my husband does something really freakin’ stupid and I have to start all over. Because, ya know, it’s not *my* fault he didn’t know that I wanted him to put the laundry away – he should *see* that I didn’t have time to do it and just do it. d’uh.