handling expectationsJorge hung up the phone and sat at his desk for a long time, staring out the window, seeing everything yet seeing nothing.

As he sat there, he replayed, over and over again, the conversation he’d just had with his business partner.

The call had been unexpectedly contentious.

His business partner accused him of three serious acts of wrong-doing. 

Those three acts were topics the two of them had never discussed

Jorge was shocked to learn his business partner wanted to be copied on every email he sent to prospective clients, viewed his participation in a local networking group as an under-handed way to get to know more people in the community, and saw Jorge’s popular blog as a way for Jorge to hog the limelight and shut him out.

Their photography business didn’t last to see its one-year anniversary.

Too many times I’ve seen unmet expectations derail projects, careers, and relationships.

Too many times, those expectations were unmet because they weren’t communicated. The other person was just expected you to know what they expected.

Ever found yourself in a situation where you were caught off guard by something someone assumed that you would know?

That discomfort or animosity can be avoided if we make the time and effort to set a few simple ground rules at the beginning of a project, assignment or work partnership.

5 ways to set expectations

1) Determine who will do what. 

When we define roles and responsibilities early on, everyone knows their role. When new duties arise, make it a point to assign ownership for completion.

2) Establish how you’ll communicate.

The method for communicating, be it through email, text messages, in-person meetings, phone calls, etc., matters less than understanding each other’s preferences and taking them into account as much as possible. When generational differences are a factor, this step is crucial.

3) Connect to check in.

Touch base periodically to assess if things are on track or not. If adjustments are needed, identify who will make them. Flag potential problems and/or issues early – no one likes to be surprised.

4) Be curious.

Explore styles, interests, likes, dislikes, goals, etc. before starting the partnership. If differences do exist (and they will), assess whether ot not they can be tolerated. Know if those involved are interested in working through problems or if playing the blame game is the default position.

5) Define what success will look like.

Be specific in detailing what outcomes are expected and how you’ll work together to achieve them. Figure out if the end game between those involved is competition or collaboration. Egos can be insurmountable barriers to work completion, so it’s best to know this ahead of time.

Unhappiness lies in that gap between our talents and our expectations. ~Sebastian Horsley, artist

We all have expectations of ourselves and others. To avoid disappointment, anger, frustration, and a whole host of other ugly outcomes, share those expectations early and often.

What other advice do you have for Jorge?

Image source before quote:  morgueFile.com