Life can be tough and people around us can add to that frustration. Some of us navigate through life, just constantly disappointed with the people we share our life with. Everyone should have expectations but sometimes our expectations are much higher than they should be. This can cause problems with our own personal relationships and only add disappointment to our day.
We may meet someone new and be taken aback at the lack of effort he or she makes to start a conversation. We may find ourselves asking them questions and trying to get the ball rolling, while the other person simply sits there, lacking things to say. Some of us may have employers who seem to not notice the good work you have been doing. You may have some great accomplishments throughout your life time, and find that people you feel are important to you are not as enthused about that as you would like them to be. You may find yourself disappointed in the lack of romantic gestures that your partner shows to you. All of us have expectations of other people, and often these expectations are higher than they should be.
This does NOT mean that we shouldn’t have any expectations of people. That’s not the case I am saying in the slightest. We should have expectations for the way people around us treat us, but sometimes these expectations are unrealistic and only lead to disappointment. People often forget that we are simply people and everyone has a wide range of imperfections, and that people will not always respond to us in a way that makes us the happiest or that seems convenient.
My way is not always the right way. You may have noticed that over the years your standards or opinions have changed. When I was just beginning college, I used to have this unhealthy belief that in a long distance relationship, one should talk to their significant other at least a couple of hours a day. Boy, was I wrong about that and I even now, I don’t feel it’s necessary to talk that often to a significant other while having a long distance relationship nor would I place that expectation on any couple. My opinions changed. So learn that your way may not always be the right way. Who says that is the right way of doing things? If you have problems coming to terms with this, then ask someone you trust who has a different opinion on an expectation to explain to you why that is. You may learn something new, possibly change your own opinions and learn that everyone has different perspectives and ways of doing thing and that we have to accommodate for that.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you act differently if you were in their shoes? Try and understand the situation from their shoes. We tend to have the notion that people are always doing the right thing, and that people’s moods are always the same. If someone is having a tough day, they may not respond so well. Sometimes people may not have the knowledge necessary to show the appreciation you deserve. For example, whenever I come back from travels, there are friends who will ask me loads of questions and seem excited and others who simply just say “that’s cool” and change the subject. I could get offended by the lackluster response, but I realize that the people saying that may not have gotten the opportunity to travel and may not really know what to ask or how to respond.
Realize people lower their expectations for you. None of us are perfect and everyone can think of at least a couple of mistakes we have made. Many of us can also think of times people have given us a break for not responding in a manner they wish or when we don’t treat them the way he or she expected. My boyfriend was reading me a poem he liked that recently got published by a journal. He was very excited by it, so he read it to me. He writes very abstractly, and it was tough for me to truly understand the meaning behind the poem. I told him I did like the poem but asked him to explain some elements of the poem. I know that by being with me he had to adjust his expectations by realizing that I never really read poetry before meeting him and that I am doing my best to try and understand his work.
You don’t communicate your expectations. Often we place un-communicated expectations on people. This is a trap some employers fall into. An employer may hire a few people and be genuinely surprised at the amount of effort people are NOT making. Then that same employer will be surprised to see how employees can make that effort once he or she communicated exactly what he or she expected out of that employee. Telling people what you want can really make a difference. Instead of inwardly getting upset for seeing someone not do something you want, just be up front and tell them what you want. If you are upset your friend is not contributing gas money, then simply tell him or her that’s your policy and you would like him or her to contribute. If you want your significant other to spend more quality time with you, then let him or her know that is what you would really like. Just be aware that people are not perfect and cannot always meet your expectations, but you can certainly make it easier for both of you by communicating your expectations.
Does the person understand your expectations? Just because you communicated your expectations does not mean that person understands. Misunderstandings can happen frequently. Follow-up with the person and see if they really understood what your expectations are. Also, check to see if he or she feels those expectations are fair and will try to meet your expectations.
Tell the person HOW to meet your expectations. Sometimes we automatically feel that everyone we interact with is a psychic and knows exactly what to do and how to do it. That’s not true. You may ask your boyfriend if he can be more romantic. He may respond by telling you “you’re beautiful” more often. That’s what he thinks is what you want and you may be disappointed. Instead, you should have communicated you wanted him to be more romantic by surprising you with random dates, sending you the occasional bouquet of flowers or sending you nice text messages every so often saying that he loves you. It’s not their fault if you failed to communicate how you want your expectations to be met.
Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your expectations. Our expectations are often not the correct way of doing things. Seriously consider the flaws in your expectations and how your expectations influence people. Something may be beneficial to you but not for another. Asking for a partner to spend all their time with you, may be nice for you, but you are virtually controlling your partner’s free time and not giving them the space he or she needs.
Adjust your expectations. Adjust your expectations for the people around you. Again, life does not revolve around you. You will have to adjust for other people, while people may have to make adjustments for you. Work with the other person’s system. Create expectations that are versatile and that are not rigid. Realize your expectation that your mom will call you twice a week does not extend to long distance friends. Realize that although your prior employer sent you sincere thank you notes for great work, does not mean your current employer will do that. Have versatile expectations because we are surrounded by unique, versatile people.
Can the person meet your expectations? Again, keep adjusting for everyone. Some people in our lives will not be able to meet our expectations at all. That’s life. If that’s the case be aware of that and stop getting irritated with him or her about it. Lower your expectations for that person.
Realize your expectations are not the rules. This one is hard for some people to accept but there is no way we can enforce our expectations. We may be able to ground the kids if they don’t pass their classes, but in most cases, we cannot “punish” someone for not meeting our expectations.
Use these tactics to lower your expectations for other people. You will be pleasantly surprised at the increase of happiness you feel with your relationships. You may also be happy to realize that everyone is different and that it’s wonderful to adjust our expectations and have a greater understanding of someone else’s perspective.