One of my favourite people has a saying (one that she probably repeats more to me than others as I'm quite highly strung) 'lower your expectations'. Now, this has never sat well with me as, to be frank, I don't want to or feel like I should have to 'lower my expectations'. Her theory is that if you have no expectations then you won't be disappointed. Although her realistic/ pessimistic outlook might work for some I think there may be a better way of dealing with my own expectations of people.
I have a theory which goes: ' if you have a level of expectation you need to outline this to whoever is involved' otherwise how are they meant to know what you expect of them. They're not mind-readers!
I was watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory the other day and a couple in the show (Sheldon and Amy) mention having a relationship agreement. This 31 page 'Shamy' contract is an outline of expectations (well mainly Sheldon's expectations) and responsibilities to each other. This might be deemed far-fetched and unromantic by some and with articles such as- 'neither party is allowed to pout or be moody on date night' and '72 hours' notice must be given when the other is going on a trip' you can see why, but actually, I think they might be onto something.
I'm considering drawing up relationship agreement. It sounds ridiculous but my partner and I thought that would be a good idea for us- a bit like a pre-nup for washing up!
A signed agreement of what you expect of each other could save a lot of rows and disgruntlements.
1. Both parties responsible for emptying the bins
2. Both parties responsible for ensuring there is always milk
3. Both parties must greet each other with a smile
4. Neither party is allowed to go to bed on an argument
5. Both parties must make the other soup when they are ill (and dole out lashings of sympathy
Although article 4 might mean that you may become sleep deprived, a signed agreement might hold the key to future happiness and be a way of meeting your partners' most important expectations as well as your partner meeting your own expectations and requirements.
So, how we can apply this to the workplace?
We all have agreements in the workplace- as employees we expect that we get paid on a set date and are entitled to X amount of holiday/ bonuses and in return our employers expect that we work our job descriptions, (or sometimes more than that!) turn up on time and follow the company policies.
However, what if we were to go one step further and have a team expectations list; something that everybody agrees on is a reasonable expectation to have. These already might be unwritten rules but not everybody adheres to them. An expectation list might be something like:
1. Everyone to offer to do a tea round in X amount of time
2. That we don't forget each other's birthdays
3. A response to an urgent marked email within X amount of time
4. Everyone to contribute to the Christmas buffet
5. Everyone not to steal one another's food/ chairs/ car parking spaces
6. To be thanked/ praised/ bought lunch for completing a difficult task
7. To see consequences for failing to meet our expectations
8. Each other to feign interest to stories about their children/ dogs/ exercise regimes
It's never too late
These frank open discussions can occur at any time - if a colleague, for example, is regularly late for a meeting with you and this is one of your biggest bug bears then you need to let them know- if they are aware that it's going to nark you off royally maybe they will be less flippant when they greet you and apologise or will make an effort to be on time with you as you expect not be waiting. If someone expects that you are happy to wait for them then they will keep behaving in a way that disappoints you.
Make your expectations meet the reality
Meeting expectations is so much easier for people to achieve when they know what is expected of them- you wouldn't go to the hairdressers and not discuss what you require or how we want things to look but we do it in everyday life- how do we want things to look?
So, to sum up the message of my blog: Discuss your expectations. Speak up. Write them down together. Agree on it. Sign it. Reveal your expectations and exceed others' expectations. And finally- never ever EVER lower them.
I'll let you know how it goes...
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