Managing expectations

Managing Expectations

Expectations affect the state of our interpersonal relationships, especially in the workplace, where we have differing approaches on how to do the work given as well as different attitudes and opinions on the work itself.


How often have you found yourself getting stressed, angry or frustrated because someone has failed to meet your expectations? This seems to be a fairly common situation that most people find themselves in; which raises the question: how do we prevent such situations from happening?


Most agree on the idea that having “no expectations” will create an ideal situation where there are no dissapointments, thus, there will also be no feelings of anger and frustration. As logical as that may sound, in the practical aspect of things, is it really possible for one to completely have “no expectations” of anyone or anything? After all, we are only human.


Expectations towards others reflects what we want and desire from them and to some extent, also shows that we have enough respect for them to expect a certain level of performance. It is a basic human tendency that drives us to achieve more. Repressing these expectations may not make us as happy as we think because deep down, we still possess that want and desire. The idea of just eliminating expectations feels a tad simplistic and seems to encourage “running away” instead of attempting to solve the problem at its core.


An alternative to having “no expectations” is to focus on having realistic expectations of others. By having a realistic view of our world, we can set these expectations by factoring in our past experiences with the person and evaluating the various circumstances surrounding the situation at hand. However, in the case where our expectations are not met, we should also seek to understand and constantly remind ourselves that getting angry or frustrated with a person will only make the situation worse by possibly corroding relationships over something that has already been done.


Trying to change something that cannot be is like breaking through concrete with a toothpick, futile at best. Accept that things will not always go your way and try to alleviate the problem by adapting to the situation. Keep in mind that not every problem can be solved, if nothing can be done, just move on to something else. There is no point in holding grudges and beating yourself up for something that is beyond your control.


Sometimes, unmet expectations could just be a result of a misunderstanding between what the person thinks you want and what you really want from them. When that happens, we can lessen the disparity by clearly communicating our expectations to each other, agree on a set of realistic expectations and keep to them. Expectations may change over time and it would be a good practice to re-evaluate them together after awhile; there needs to be significant effort from both parties to facilitate good communication.


It is only human to have expectations, and just like everything else in life, we have to learn how to manage them and achieve a right balance. While we cannot ensure that our expectations will be met all the time, what we can control is how we choose to act in these situations.


How do you manage your expectations? What are your views on this issue? Share your views with us in the comments below.