In personal and professional life, most of us are struggling to manage the expectation as we have limited time and resources. On the personal front, there is a need to manage the expectation from SELF as well as from family members. In the professional front,there is a need to manage the expectation from bosses, subordinates, peers and in business environment, there is a need to manage the expectation from customers and other stakeholders.

When we are not able to manage the expectation well, it creates a lot of pressure within us.To manage the expectation,we need to understand some of the insights and discuss the solutions approach.

Let us discuss the following aspects
1. Misunderstanding about the expectation management
2. Some of the insights about expectation
3. A paradigm shift in approaching the problem
4. Solutions approach to manage the expectation

Mastering the art of managing expectation leads to high performance, extraordinary human being and above all makes you stress free. (Which is good for you and others!!!) and let us strive for it.!!

When there is a gap between the expectation and reality, it becomes problematic. This problem may result in disappointment, angry, self deprivation, frustration or in modern management terminology STRESS.

For example, at a personal level, you may like to give up some bad habits and in reality, if you are not able to give up, that makes you disappointment, that shakes your self confidence or you start to hate yourself. How to manage about yourself during such circumstances?

Similarly, in professional front, you may expect high performance levels from your team and the team is not up to your expectation, you get into disappointment, frustration or personal level vengeance with some team members. Eventually it starts spoiling the quality of relationship with the team. How to manage the expectation from others? In the reverse situation, your boss is expecting more from you and if you are up to his expectation, the same level of stress your boss may be undergoing as you are going through!!!..How to manage the expectation of others for you??

Similarly, even in family front, you may expect something from your spouse, children and the reality may be different. You get into disappointment and sometimes the disappointments turn into anguish and verbal battle situations. How to manage those expectations in a domestic environment?

The point for realization is that there is no guarantee that reality will always be same as you are expecting. What we need to learn is how to cope or manage the gap between the expectation and reality.

Before getting into solution approach, let us understand some of the truth or insights about the expectation management.

Insight 1:

“Expectation arises when there is relationship”

In personal life, expectation arises between you and yourself, expectation arises between you and your parents / brothers, expectation arises between husband and wife, expectation arises between parents and child, expectation arises between teacher and students and so on.

In a professional environment, expectation arises between you and your boss, expectation arises between you and your team, expectation arises between peers and so on.
In a business environment, expectation arises between supplier and customer, expectation between client and service provider, expectation arises between business and society and so on.

Likewise, expectation arises between one element and another. In all the above examples, what does exist in common? In all the examples, there exists RELATIONSHIP. Expectation arises only when there is a RELATIONSHIP. Alternatively, we can say when there is a relationship; there must be expectation in the relationship.

Generally, we are not expecting much about someone who does not have much relationship with us. We expect something only someone is associated with our life through some relationships. Hence, when there is a relationship, there must be some expectation. If we internalize this fact or insight, this would bring a new dimension to solve the managing the expectation problem.
The next insight would be when there is a relationship, why someone is expecting from us ?

Insight 2:

Why someone is expecting from us? Because others are believing that you are capable of fulfilling their expectations.

For example,
you are expecting more from you, because subconsciously you believe that you have more potential.

In a professional environment, your boss is expecting more from you than other colleagues, because he believes you have more potential and capability to deliver.
In family life, family members are expecting more of your time with them,because they believe that you are the source of love, source of care, source of affection.
Your friend is sharing his problems with you, because he is believing that you can provide perspective or solutions to the problem.

In a nutshell, someone who is having a relationship with us, believing that we can fulfill their expectations.

If you understand this fact, Is it not privilege for you for having such a relationship in your life ????..If this is privilege or a gift you got in your life, is not your responsibility to make an effort to fulfill the expectation of the relationship ??

If you internalize this insight, you will never be feel stressed on managing the expectation..You thank God for having so many people in your life believes that you can deliver, then managing expectation becomes easier.

Insight 3:

“You cannot control other’s expectation”

Even though our intention must be to fulfill the expectation of others to the maximum extent possible, we must also realize the fact that we cannot control other’s expectation of us. That means, others can expect anything from us, it is not possible always to fulfill the expectation. It requires a balanced approach to managing the expectation and relationship.

This insight is important, failing which only, sometimes, we want to please all people and in this process, either we lose our temperament or personality or disappoint everyone surrounding us.

For example, through your business, you are providing service and your customer is expecting more from you and sometimes expecting unreasonably say superior performance, lowest cost, and fastest delivery. You cannot control the customer’s expectation. At the same time, you may not able to fulfill all expectation, as you know it is a tradeoff between cost, speed, and delivery. Here what you must learn is how to manage the unreasonable expectation and retain the relationship, not on trying to please others at the cost of your profitability and peace .

Insight 4:

“In a relationship, the expectation is not explicitly expressed”

Most of the time, as we take relationship as GRANTED,we restrict the expression of our expectation to others. When we are not explicitly expressing our expectation, it creates misunderstanding, disappointments and frustration in a relationship.

For example, as a manager, you want to cut down the expenses and expect your team member to prepare the expense analysis. Your team member is also preparing and presenting you all the data with analysis.But still internally you may be disappointed with your team ‘s performance. The reason could be internally you are expecting decision points or solutions approach where you are getting only the accumulated data and analysis. You might have assumed or taken granted, you team member understood your internal expectation and when the reality is not so, you are getting disappointed.

Similarly, in personal life, your spouse / children want you to spend time with them and they may ask for taking them to short outings. Even after you spend your time and money on the picnic or outing, they may get upset with you. The reason could be the real expectation n is spending quality time with you and you had not fulfilled during outings. Since it is an intimate relationship, things are taken granted and the expression is not explicitly expressed.

The point to understand is in a relationship, most of the time, things are taken granted and the expectation is not expressed clearly.

As we had discussed some of the insights and problems in managing the expectation of others both in professional and personal life, now we discuss the solutions approach to manage the expectation as it is difficult to fulfill the expectation always.

Solution approach to manage the expectation:

1. Taking responsibility to improve the competency
2. Improving the communication and feedback
3. Deciding the choice and accepting consequence

Taking responsibility to improve the competency:

One of the reasons we struggle to fulfill the expectation of others in professional life is the lack of required competency which organization or others expect from us. The one of the ways to cope up with the expectation is to continuously upgrade the competency. Competency is the combination of knowledge, skill and attitude towards the task.

Depending upon your profession, there is a need to continually update the core knowledge or technical skill. Apart from core skill development, other management skills like able to prioritize the activities, able to extract the essence of the information, able to get things down from others, leveraging technology and others for personal productivity and so on needs to be developed.

As per recent research by World economic forum, Problem solving skill is being top skill expected in the organization. Most of the misunderstandings between peers, boss and subordinate arises due to lack of understanding the big picture, detailing to data, analyzing the data, connecting the dots, interpreting the information, articulating the pro’s and con’s of actions and ability to communicate the solutions approach etc .
Development and mastering above competency is a life long experience. As said earlier, managing the expectation is also a life long experience!.Hence invest yourself in improving your competency.

Improving communication skill / feedback, giving and receiving:

In professional life, we are struggling to meet the expectation of others or others are not up to our expectation is probably due to our inability to express our requirement very clearly… Expressing our requirements clearly is the art of communication and developing this skill is a life long effort as we need to deal with different people, with different situation and we are at different level of maturity.

One technique we can use in a professional environment is PURPOSE FULL COMMUNICATION. when we ask for any details from team, we can go one step further by explaining why we need the data, when exactly we need, how this data would be useful .By explaining this in detail, we respect others as individual and there is likely less chance for misunderstanding the expectation.

Also developing the skill of giving the right feedback at the right time to others when things are not going as per our expectation helps to correct the situation as well as to improve the relationship. Similarly, we can develop the EGO free attitude for asking feedback from others when we are not clear on the communication or expectation of others.

Deciding the choice and accepting the consequences:

It is very difficult to fulfill all the expectation of others, even though others are related to us in one way or another. To some extent, we can take effort to improve our competency, communication, and interpersonal capabilities to manage the expectation. Most importantly, we can decide the priority in life or decide which relationship we would like to preserve most. Based on the choice or decision, we manage the expectation. However, we need to accept the consequence once the choice or decision taken.

For example, you come across better career advancement opportunity, but you are rejecting the opportunities to fulfill the expectation of your family members. That is your choice and it may be good for you. Once you decide the choice, accept any consequence of career growth. The problem arises only when you are not accepting the consequence and internally feeling guilty about your choice.

Ultimately, you need to decide which is important to you, which relationship you want to preserve most, take a decision, and accept the consequence happily. This mindset is required for balanced growth and happy life!!

Author's Bio: 

Ganesh babu is founder and CEO of Winning Minds Solutions, a consulting and performance coaching firm.He is focussing more on business transformation of small , medium scale organisations as well as start ups.After serving in many organisation at senior leadership level, with passion towards helping Individual and organisation to reach NEXT LEVEL GROWTH, he started his own firm in 2012.He strongly believes that with given potential,right strategy, winning mindset and action, next level growth is possible.As he is adopting simple management methodologies, tools , techniques coupled with his people centric leadership style enables him to bring positive result and impact on any individual and organization .He delivered significant transformation results on business profitability and building performance based cultures in his SME clients.You can read the success case studies and business transformation related articles by visiting
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