Don’t blame people for disappointing you. Blame yourself for expecting too much from them.

Don’t blame people for disappointing you. Blame yourself for expecting too much from them.

As soon as we project our expectations on another human being, we are one step closer to feeling let down. This is not to say that most people will let you down,  because in many cases they come through even stronger than you might have hoped for. But, inevitably, some people (myself included) are not going to deliver fully as expected.

So, in the course of our trying to navigate this delta between what we expect and what others deliver, how might we best temper our expectations in a way that enables us to regularly feel positive about the outcomes?

Our predetermined vision as to what we would hope they will achieve must be the fluctuating variable in order that we might find harmony between our expectations and what others are capable of being.

In this situation, General George Patton made a very good point: “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.”

His perspective was that people are far more capable and ingenious then we might expect. An allowance for their individuality to shine will deliver higher than hoped for outcomes.

There are so many pieces to the puzzle of calculating how another person may deliver. Part of that stems from a recognition that every individual has differing amounts of emotional intelligence, life experience, personality traits, and so much more. How then, are we best able to manage our expectations?

The part of the equation that rests on our shoulders is very clear communication as to what those expectations really are. People are not mind readers, so for us to expect that they will automatically do or behave as we had hoped is, at best, delusional. How would anyone even begin to know what you were expecting of them? If you are not clear in your communication, it is a folly to project that on them with any degree of consistency of overlap unilaterally. There will inevitably be categories that are not aligned. That is just math.

Beyond the clear communication must also allow for a reasonable evaluation of our expectations so that we are living in the world of reality instead of a world of fantasy and wishful thinking.

It is of course disappointing to have what you might believe to be a reasonable set of expectations of someone else, only to discover that they fall short of the mark.

In those circumstances, we are well served to suppress an evaluation of how and why they are not measuring up. No one likes to be criticized and if we are, we all tend to default to a highly defensive posture.  In my experience, I have learned how to couch a lot of the expectations that I have with specific language that eliminates a portion of the constructive criticism and turns it into a positive suggestion.

For example, rather than constructing a sentence in the form of an accusation such as, “you never do (blank)” or “ you always do (blank)….try instead, “ have you ever considered what the outcome might be if (blank) or “ What do you suppose might happen if(blank).

The first two examples are accusatory and instantly put the other party on the defensive, feeling as if they have let you down and leaving them instantly resentful of everything else that comes out of your mouth thereafter.

The second two examples are non-antagonistic, they are more suggestion oriented. The other party may or may not appreciate the suggestion, but it comes across as friendly counsel and non-antagonistic. 

Regardless of your approach, you may still feel as if your expectations of the other party are not being met.

Realistically, as stated previously, the likelihood of them completely living up to your expectations remains challenged at best. So the other side of the equation is asking yourself what your priority for those expectations truly are. In the course of prioritization, we might discover that most of the variables that are not being met, are not actually very high on our prioritization list. If this is the case, we are well served to allow for the fact that nothing and no one is perfect so that we might find our enjoyment and satisfaction in the course of receiving such a high combination of our overall expectations being fully met and/or exceeded.

I close my musing today with one of the great sages of our era, Mick Jagger, who says, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need.“ 

Happy Friday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!