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Failed Expectations and Conflict

Updated on January 6, 2014

Soften the Blow


I got fired today...

Well, not in the literal terms, I was ‘laid off’ because I failed expectations and it created conflict.

The story isn't as important as the lesson I've learned as a result. I've lived awhile and one thing I've learned is that there is a lesson in every experience and I can take an experience as something that happened to me or something that happened for me. There is a difference between the two mindsets with the latter being the most helpful.

What happened for me is that I realized that I had expectations that were not met. Plain and simple, the variables and details are plainly incidental. My employer also had expectations that were not met. Although both of us had these expectations, neither of us expressed them truthfully during the interview which set us both up for disappointment.

I know what you may be thinking, 'I would just state my expectations up front and then no one can say their expectations weren't met'. Let's examine how it would be if I had stated what my real expectations were.

Me: 'I will work for you, give you 110% of myself. I will be on time, rarely if ever call in sick and build your business for you. In return, I expect a lot of compliments, constant approval, and to be promoted to the next level when available. I also expect you to see me as an invaluable employee that you just can't see yourself without.'

Now what are you thinking? Would you hire me if I said all that? Probably not. You might like the first part of my statement but when it came to the expectations, you might think you have a high maintenance employee that will constantly be bending your ear on all the ways you could improve the work environment, build your business, and which employees are not living up to their potential. On some level you would be right. So, I softened the blow during the interview and told him what I thought he wanted to hear.

I could use the same example for my boss. To be fair, I am sure that he too had expectations that were not stated during the interview because if they were, I might have chosen not to accept the job.

Blissful Romance


Romantic Expectations - realistic? Or idealistic?

Most of us, if we are honest, don’t really express our true expectations. We tell people expectations we think they want to hear. Why? Well, two reasons. One, we may not even be aware of what our true expectations are or because let's face it...we know our expectations are a bit unrealistic but we want the job, romantic relationship, or friendship. Many times we think we are compromising and in the beginning that may be true but once we become more secure and comfortable, our real expectations begin to change the relationship.

In romantic relationships, we bring our baggage with us to the first date. The amount of unspoken and unrealistic expectations we bring with us is directly proportionate to the number of relationships we have had prior. We bring our 'shopping lists' with us of what we are looking for in a mate. We have been disappointed in the past (once? Many times? Its variable of course) and we are not going to make the same mistake again. A first date is often a negotiation of relationship terms softened by our conversational manner and our willingness to present ourselves in a good light.

Since I am a woman, I will shed a little light for us ladies on how our idealistic expectations vs realistic expectations play out from the beginning.

Awwww, the romantic books we read. We can thank Jude Deveraux, Laurel Hamilton, and Harlequin for the joy and goosebumps we get from the romantic interludes the female heroines experience. Anita Blake is a most desirable female for all those vampires, were-animals and other humans. She's so unbelievably (I do mean unbelievably) desirable that the men in her life just have to accept they are not her 'one and only'. How heady is that! Purely fictional, which is where the book is filed at the library and Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately, we forget that part.

So we go to our first date with the (hopefully) man of our dreams. The attraction is immediate so it is time for the negotiation to begin. We ladies can be kind of coy and we begin to play the 'this is what I am looking for game'. From the conversation below, tell me if this sounds familiar.

'I have been hurt so many times. I have a lot of love to give and I want someone who feels the same way about me and will be true to me. I am independent, I want to have a job but I also like down time with my partner. I love to (insert preferences here) and I am looking for someone who likes the same thing.'

Now those are the 'spoken' expectations, the terms of negotiation that are pleasing and seemingly easy to meet. But what about the unspoken expectations, the unrealistic ones?

'I would like a mate who gives me gifts as expressions of his love. He remembers every holiday, my birthday and do not even think about missing Valentine's Day. I would like to be so desirable in his eyes that I can do no wrong. He comes home from a long day of work and cannot keep his hands off of me. I need a three hour lovemaking session at least once a month plus always know when I need a hug and a kiss. Oh, and did I forget I need to be accepted exactly for who I am and that includes my housecleaning abilities, cooking abilities, and the desire to be a mother or not to be a mother.'

Sound familiar? Does to me and I'm sure I'm not unique in this area.

Guys...I am not leaving you out, all you have to do is insert your own words to the examples above.

Once the relationship gets going however our prince or princess charming is not meeting our expectations. We examine our needs and wants and ask ourselves if what we were looking for is so hard to provide. This is when relationships begin to go awry. Disillusion and disappointment over expectations.

Then comes conflict. This is where relationships that have real potential can fail. We can be very rigid with expectations when it comes to our romantic partners and mates.

Unrealistic Expectations Lead to Unhappiness, Loneliness and Dick Rauscher

Letting go = serenity

Is it more important to be happy or to be right?

Failed expectations can be at the root of great unhappiness in the majority of our relationships whether it be romantic, career, friendships or even with ourselves. If you feel you may have unrealistic expectations you may need to look into the relationship you have with yourself.

James Allen once said: 'Right thinking begins with what we say to ourselves...' If we have high expectations of ourselves there is a tendency to project those expectations onto others. The biggest conflicts in friendships and working relationships are the expectations that others think the way we do. If I am the type of person that would buy an uplifting card for a friend going through a difficult time, I may expect the same from my friend. The conflict arises if my friend does not think the same way and I don't get the treatment I am expecting when I suffer difficulty. My expectations have now been projected onto my friend who may not ever have expected me to send the card in the first place. Not to mention that my good deed was done with strings attached and not solely out of the spirit of being kind.

DISCLAIMER: Now there are expectations that are by no means unrealistic. Trying to have realistic expectations is not a reason to accept abuse or bullying in any of our relationships.

On a higher note, failed expectations do not have to change who we are. If the relationship is important enough it may require us to make exceptions and be flexible. It is a process of introspection and a willingness to minimize the conflict in our lives by meeting our relationships where they are and understanding that everyone is different with different needs and of course, different expectations.

I will still be an employee that gives 110% because that makes me happy and it gives me satisfaction and fulfillment. This experience isn't meant to make me different or bitter, it teaches me that sometimes things don't work the way I expected them to and that happens. I am still going to leave happy knowing I did my best.

In some cases it is just more important to be happy than it is to be right.


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