A couple of years ago I heard a statement that was both profound and troubling to me at the time. I was at a small conference, and one of the speakers gets up, and with all the confidence in the world, makes the statement: “100% of relationship strife is about miss-set expectations.”
When I first heard that I was like, “I don’t know if that’s right. I get a large part of it. It’s quite a statement to say 100% of anything is a specific way.” Whether it’s really 100% or not, I agree with the basis of the statement that a large amount of relationship problems are based on miss-set expectation. Whether you’re talking a romantic relationship, a business relationship, or sales relationship. Any kind of relationship can definitely be really screwed by miss-set expectation.
For example, a husband is working hard at his job and his wife’s expecting him to be home at six o’clock. She’s got dinner all set up, and something comes up on the job. He gets involved in his work. Forgets to call her, and shows up at seven. You can just imagine the fight that ensues. I mean, it’s probably not the first time it’s happened. She was expecting him to be there at a certain time. He didn’t take the time out of his focus on his busy day to let her know that things were different and reset her expectation.
What about your expectation for how somebody’s supposed to be or what they should look like? For example, you’re walking down the street, and you see a teenager that’s got a haircut different than you are used too? Or you see a teenager that’s dressed as goth, or hip-hop, or anything that isn’t in your wheelhouse. What if that teenager is your son or daughter. That’s definitely not matching your expectation for how you want your son or daughter to be living.
That discussion came up at one nite, while I was having dinner with some really great friends of mine here in Dallas. My friend Mike and I were talking about the kid sitting at the table next to us. This haircut that I will say was a little bit off-center. The beauty of the discussion is that both Mike and I were in the same place regarding the kid. Mike was looking at it from the sense of appreciating having been there himself. Having done it to get attention, be outside the norm, rebel against the parents or the world. All of those things that teenagers do.
I was looking at it the kids’s creativity and how that he is shining in his own way and being himself. As opposed to, trying to fit into the mold and the box of society wants him to be in.
My new favorite phrase about expectation is: “Trade your expectation for appreciation.” When you do that, your level of happiness will go through the roof. Regardless of what the scenario is. If the wife in the previous example trades her expectation for him being there at a certain time for, “You know what? He’s working really hard for me and the kids to can have this beautiful house, our beautiful car and nice vacations. He’s working hard to provide for us and make our life better, and I appreciate that.”
Or your teenage child isn’t in the box that you think they should be in as a teenager but they’re showing their creativity. Show your appreciation for that creative part of themselves. If you foster that and you celebrate that, and you’ll have a child that grows up well-rounded, secure, courageous and confident. You can do the same thing with people walking down the street. Whether you have an direct interaction with them or not. You can make a choice to say to yourself, “Hmm, that’s not my choice but I really appreciate the boldness that they have. I appreciate the courage, and creativity that they have to make that choice.”
Change your expectations. Trade them for appreciation and your level of happiness will go through the roof.