So what were you expecting? Manage first, then reap the benefits.

“It wasn’t how I thought it would be.”  “I wasn’t expecting that.” “I was disappointed.”  “It was 100 times better than I expected.”

The world seen through your lens.  Or your friend’s.  Or your child’s.  Or your manager’s.

You see, the potential problem is that everyone’s perspective is slightly different.  We base our expectations (especially of the unknown) on what our experiences tell us.  And what we don’t know, we make up.  It’s what the brain does.  And it does it for all the best reasons: the main one being to keep us safe.

And the brain has a point.  If we rehearse something; imagine how it might work, what we might do, how we might react or behave, then when it actually happens, we’re more in control, or we think we are.  And this works up to a point.  And then you have a situation where other elements are thrown into to the mix: a person, or people who see things differently, outside influences beyond your control, an unexpected emotion that surfaces, and before you know it, you’re finding it hard to deal with.

At the start of a new month, and the approach of the last month of the year, which brings challenges for many of us, let’s think for a moment about how we can manage expectations, both our own and others’.

Communicate – always and often
If you don’t talk about, or ask about what’s expected, how can you possibly nip potential problems in the bud?  Set out in your mind, and discuss, the ideal scenario and work towards it.  Make a plan that everyone buys into, at least, to begin with.

Review – always and often
Of course there will be challenges along the way.  Your initial thoughts may be challenged, or prove to be unrealistic.  So be prepared to rewind, adjust and adapt along the way.  Revisit your plan.  Is it working?  If not, what can be done?  Communicate changes clearly, even if it’s just to yourself.

Be flexible – always and often
If you’re working with others, they may change their minds, or bring new ideas into the mix.  Be open-minded.  If you’re working on something alone, the same applies.  Try to be objective, as best you can.

Ask for help – always and often
No-one has to manage alone, even if it’s a solo project.  There’s a wealth of expertise out there and people love offering help.  So make them feel good too.  Ask.  With teamwork, it’s all about a joint effort, so involve and get involved.

Say “thank you” – always and often
Congratulate yourself on how you’ve done, along the way and at the end, even if the end is not as you first imagined.  Being aware of, and grateful for, what you’ve learnt, both hard and soft lessons, will prepare you for your next experience.  “Thank you” is a very powerful phrase.  Use it wisely.





About Marianna Beckwith