Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Manage Expectations

The definition of Manage Expectations ~ Seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can be realistically achieved or delivered by a project, undertaking or course of action.

When I started my Professional Organizing business last year this was one statement that kept coming up. When talking with the more experienced organizers and different career coaches, they always mentioned this. When relating to customers you need to manage their expectations. I have thought a lot about this simple statement and how it resonates across many different aspects of life. Raising kids, relating to family, health issues and jobs.  

It’s amazing how if you explain to someone, even a very small child that “This is what you can expect from me in this situation. If you behave in a certain way, expect me to behave this way” they will actually understand!

When our kids were little my husband and I always explained to them exactly what we expected of them in any situation. When we would go out to eat ~ which wasn’t often when the kids were little, we explained that the other people eating around us wouldn’t like sitting next to a table where the kids were loud and obnoxious. Instead of just saying “Don’t do that”, we explained exactly what we meant by “that” and what we expected.

Some other things I told the kids BEFORE a situation would come up. When I come to get you at a friend’s house, don’t whine that you want to stay longer. That makes us both look bad. If I don’t like the way your friend behaves while at our house, he may not be welcome here again. We had rules and my kids knew them.
While I was raising my kids I babysat in my home. I explained to my kids, especially my daughter, because I only ever babysat for boys (not sure why) that they didn’t have to share every one of their toys. Each day before the kids came over, they would put away a few toys that were off limits to the babysitting kids. They loved the power they had! We were all learning about managing expectations and didn’t even realize it.

Another small thing that we did that a lot of people seemed to notice and comment on is that we often had candy in our house. Out in the open for anyone to eat. Our friends would often say that they could never do that with candy because their kids would eat it all when they weren’t watching. I bet they wouldn’t have if they had managed expectations. If you don’t use candy as a tool for behavior or a reward of any kind then candy becomes a no brainer. I don’t remember once ever having to tell one of my kids that they shouldn’t be eating candy right before dinner. Ever. And I never had to deal with a temper tantrum in a store because of some candy they had to have. They knew we had some at home, they could have it when they wanted it, the expectations were already set.
And we also taught our kids the meaning of the word “NO”. Kids don’t always need to be told, “YES”. Yes you can have that toy, yes I will make what you want for lunch, and yes you can have so-and-so over to play. I seriously don’t even like so-and-so.
If they understand that sometimes they might hear the word no, you have managed their expectations. 

As far as family goes, you need to manage expectations early on. If you go into each day expecting that there will be universal acceptance of your ideas and thoughts then you have set yourself up for disappointment. This goes for anything, how and when to celebrate a holiday, or a birthday, take a vacation or give and receive a gift.

Recently when I was facing some major medical issues and major life altering surgeries I had to learn very quickly what I expected of my medical staff.  I knew what level of care I should be receiving. I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of research. And I know what they expected of me during my recovery and in the years following the surgeries.

Some of the jobs I have had over the years have not been ideal. The normal things you would expect of the people you worked for just weren’t there. Things like guidance, trust and acceptance, to mention a few. When I realized the structures and values that I expected and needed weren’t available to me, I moved on from that job.

I feel like I can manage expectations better now than I could in my 20’s. I am able to take a step back and realize what parts of my life were causing me frustration and upset. All I hope is that I have taught my kids how to manage expectations.