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On Expectations

I have unreasonably high expectations for people, and as Jessy put last night, that shouldn’t change.  I should, however, adapt how I feel and react when expectations are not met.  Additionally, I should be able to identify my role in the bar not being reached.  As in most relationships, whether it is an intimate relationship, a friendship, or a business partnership, it all comes down to communication — and communication goes both ways.  There are two rules that I follow when it comes to interpersonal relationships:

  1. Relationships work as long as you are in it for the same reason.
  2. The way you get out of a relationship is the way you get into it.

The first rule is about expectations, and the second one is about karma.  For the first rule, “relationships work as long as you are in it for the same reason,” that works whether for an intimate relationship or a business relationship.  If a couple embrace where both are willing to fall in love, it works beautifully.  When a couple encounter where they are both looking for a one-night-stand, well, it also works.  But it doesn’t work well when one person is looking for an intimate relationship and the other is looking for physical enjoyment.  Many people don’t communicate with themselves to know which camp they are in, let alone communicate with their partner.  On the business relationship, if you are into it for the labor of love and do do your life’s work, then things work.  If you are into it for a quick three-year exit with a large ROI, then it can work.  But the complexities come into play when you second guess your partners motivations, expectations, and commitment.  This is when tension increases and entitlement creeps in.  This is also when you need to clear the air.

There are two quotes that I enjoy when it comes to clear communications:

“Always do what you agree to do, and know that what you agree to do can be renegotiated.”

There is one caveat, however.  Renegotiating after a deadline doesn’t count ;) .  But communicating early, your team can adjust and reprioritize to fill in the gaps.  Things inevitably come up, and this is why we work on teams.  This quote also allows you to use the power of your word, and say what you mean and mean what you say (see The Four Agreements below).  If you find that you’re continuously renegotiating everything, you’ll quickly learn avoid the renegotiation by agreeing to do what you will in fact get done in the first place.

And finally:

“The truth will set you free.”

By saying things thoughtfully and truthfully, you cannot go wrong.  The other person in the dialog will be able to feel the authenticity.  If you are not in love with the other person, speak from the heart and truth.  If you are having problems with a teammate, don’t sugar coat it.  This clearing the air helps to simplify issues, put things back into perspective, and find the basis of trust that is agreed upon within the partnership.

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

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2 Responses

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  1. jessy says

    ++ really well synthesized. i think this will be a good reference to come back to when reminding myself of how to meet and manage expectations, both for myself and others.

  2. Jon Verville says

    Wow, I’m just starting to check out your blog here — very impressed with the years of understanding in this blog post. You must be a great guy to work for/with. I don’t think I could have put it any better.

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