I saw false smiles, meaningless chatter, and bustling around doing … mostly just being busy. I felt a weird chill in the air and sensed that everyone felt it. I sensed it had become a normal part of their workplace – not enjoyable, but normal.
Was it appropriate to facilitate a Communication Excellence program for this corporate team? I think so.
As we worked through the day, light-bulbs of understanding popped on as people let down their imaginary and delusional walls of expectations.
Expectations – We’ve all got them. Nasty, prickly creatures that jump between two people and keep them from fostering an effective relationship.
The relationship is with whom?
When I place my expectations upon another person, my relationship is with those expectations, rather than with the real, amazing, and productive human being.
Expectations are a powerful tool for myself regarding my own behaviour.
Expectations of others? Not so much.
When I expect her to think, speak, or act in a way that I’ve decided she should, I’m on a slippery slope. Gravity will take me into an abyss where I don’t want to be, where it is easy (and tempting) to blame and attack.
Been there? One attack leads to a counter-attack and ladies and gentlemen, the games begin.
Rather than expectations, how would clear agreements with her work? The difference may seem small, yet the implications are huge.
Getting to agreement is a 2-way conversation
If the desired behaviour is an agreement, i.e. a job description, the terms need to be clearly communicated and both parties must agree to the terms. It takes two people conversing, negotiating, and designing terms that both promise to fulfill. There is an intent to work together. The relationship is between two people. It’s co-operative.
An expectation is one person placing self-made obligations on the other, without the other person’s input. The intent (not usually consciously) is to force my “right” way upon you. The relationship is with the expectation. It’s dictatorial.
The challenge is to be consciously aware of when you feel frustrated, or angry because of someone else’s behaviour. Before saying a word, what might happen if you stopped to evaluate if the behaviour is an agreement or your expectation?
1. If an agreement, i.e. a job description, invest time to talk honestly about the specifics of the agreement. Ask questions, listen to understand, and work together to clarify the desired behaviour, results, and the consequences of not following through. “Is this our agreement?” can be powerful words. Imagine how both people will feel with understanding and mutual design?
2. If your frustration is an expectation of what the other person “should” do, imagine holding the expectation in the palm of your hand, and with a deep breath of forgiveness and kindness, blow it away. Then focus your attention and intention on building the relationship with the real human being.
With whom do you want your relationships; people or expectations? What are you going to do today?