What are expectations and why should we set them? An expectation is a belief about something that will happen in the future. We all have expectations. How well we share them makes the difference between happy clients, colleagues, friends and family, and repeated disappointment or frustration.
Disappointment or frustration occur when expectations do not match the reality of what happens. You can prevent this by setting and managing expectations.
- – Mind Reading is a Myth – other people cannot understand what you expect unless you tell them. Take time to share and understand expectations rather than assuming they are understood.
- – Be Clear and Specific – when you say, “I’ll call you right back,” does that mean I will call in five minutes, five hours or five days? Enough said.
- – Confirm Understanding – just because you clearly and specifically state your expectation does not mean it was understood; test for understanding.
Think back to a recent experience where your expectations were not set properly. For example, imagine going to a restaurant where you are told that you have to wait for a table. When you look around you see the tables are half empty. How do you feel about that experience?
Contrast that to a time when your expectations were set and managed well. Consider the same scenario when you are asked to wait but the hostess explains that someone is out sick and in order to ensure the best possible service you’ll need to wait ten minutes for a table. What is the difference?
In todays fast and furious pace it can be difficult to slow down and set expectations. However, the cost of dealing with expectations that were not met is far higher than a few minutes to clearly and specifically set them.