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Expectations others’ put on us – how to react and decide what is important and what is not

I recently wrote a blog post about the expectations we personally have of others’, events and ourselves. (CLICK HERE TO SEE IT) Today, I want to talk about how to deal with the expectations other people have of us.

We can control our own expectations, but we cannot control what other people expect of us, whether personally, in work, or strangers.

We need to fit in, so we do need to behave with certain restraints generally; abiding by laws, social systems and etiquette etc. If we do not, we might end up in prison or are disliked or even isolated by other people’. Some things really matter, others do not as much. We have to use our own judgements as to what expectations we will or will not fulfil. Sometimes, even though we try, we cannot always fulfil them anyway, and then what? Best ourselves up? Apologise? How important it is and how we impact on other people are the key things to think about.

So, let’s break it down…

Personal expectations. This could be from friends, a partner, a family member etc. These are people who we care about; we care about their opinions, or at least their opinions affect us in some way emotionally.

Our parents may expect us to go to University and become a Doctor for example.

Friends expect us to be on time when we meet, or not to cancel last minute continually.

Our partner might expect to share the jobs involved in keeping the home paid for and clean. Are we doing our bit, or are they expecting too much or more than we can give?

Firstly, can we put ourselves in their shoes and empathise with them; think about what their motivations are for what they want from us? It is best not to assume, as we could get it wrong, so could we ask them why they want us to do something so much?

Is the expectation perfectly acceptable and something we can agree with? If so, we could try to fulfil it. If not, talk about it. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from other people, about the way they look at things; what makes them tick and what their needs are.

Maybe we can come to a COMPROMISE?

Especially with personal relationships, but also applying to work and strangers too, we must be careful NOT TO ASSUME what their expectations are! If our self esteem is low, or we feel unhappy with ourselves, this is especially important, as we can easily assume if we think we are rubbish, then everyone else must do too. I have discussed this in much more detail in a separate article about assumptions, but I will recap here. If we assume someone thinks something negative of us, and we do not ask them to confirm, we could well be putting that on them for no reason. If we think someone feels negatively about us, we might step back from them. They have no idea why this is happening and may assume all sorts of things about why we have changed our attitude to them. The relationship is affected negatively, and it might all be for nothing. If we ask and discuss, we get the facts. We can then base our judgments and reactions on the facts and not our own made up fiction. Maybe they are judging us or expecting more than we are doing, but at least we will know for sure and won’t have a secret battle based on assumption.

Expectations at work. We all have a job role at work. It is usually a simple transaction – we give X amount of hours and work for X amount of money, whether it’s a flat wage or based on commission. This is usually laid out and understood at the beginning of a work contract so everyone knows what they are doing. But, as we continue in our job, why is it sometimes we feel uncomfortable and doubtful about our part of the deal? Are we doing enough? Will we lose our job? Can we do our job? Often, these are natural processes and keep us in check to make sure we are doing enough and do keep our jobs. However, what if we are not doing what is expected of us?

Has something been said or are we assuming? Is there something we can do? Are the expectations of our boss realistic? Are they still in line with our job description or are they asking more without offering extra pay? Or are we just getting lazy and need to step up and give more? What is the REALITY of the situation? That is the key.

Expectations of strangers. This is how we behave in public, in all sorts of situations from how we talk, eat, dress and deal with people we do not know. Are we being horrid to a waitress just because we’ve had a hard day? Are we shouting in public? Or are people judging us unfairly? Are they saying something to us, or just looking at us in a certain way based on our behaviour? Can we relate to what they are saying, or are they wrong in some way? Are we being good citizens when we are out and about? Dressing appropriately? Treating others’ as equals? Being polite? Do we fit in?

Some food for thought there, which I hope you find useful.


Take care 😊

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