Managing Expectations

In continuation to my previous post, I wanted to add a few more thoughts.

In my working life, one of the things that I used to stress to my team was on the importance of managing expectations. There were several instances where people would commit to more than they could deliver, or to time lines which were just not practical or possible, for that matter. It did far more harm to then have to go back to the client and tell them that the work item that was promised could not be delivered on time.  We have an unexplicable urge ‘to please’ people. So many times, people say ‘yes’ to things, to avoid conflict, but then end in bigger conflicts than what would have been, if they had handled it right the first time.

Managing expectation, in my experience, is the crux of all relationships, be it professional or personal. It makes much better sense to set expectations right, rather than set high expectations and fail to deliver.

And it works both ways. Some children have a sense of entitlement that is mind boggling. I remember having a conversation with somebody who was angry at his parents, because he needed money for something and his parents refused – they said they did not have it. Now this fellow is well educated, in a well paying job, surely time to stop expecting handouts from his parents? I feel it is totally fine for his parents to have refused, but he kept saying that they had enough to spare. Whether they had enough or not – surely, it is their decision. Can’t they decide what they want to do with their hard earned money? Does being somebody’s son or daughter entitle us to everything they own? I think once parents have brought us up, given us an education, we really cannot expect handouts from them. If they have money, I would rather that they kept it and used it for something they like. Have some fun, go on holidays..

There are other instances of parents assumed to be ready made, free, babysitters. I find that really unfair. Even more so, when sometimes, they are uprooted from where they are comfortable, and brought to places(sometimes abroad), where they know nobody, have no life for themselves, and have the job of looking after the grandkids.  It is perfectly acceptable if the parents want to do it, but sometimes, they just do not know how to say no and end up in a situation where everybody is unhappy.

The same goes for parents. Just because they have brought us up, does not give them a ‘right’ over our lives. I am sure that most children would love to be there for their parents, but it works much better when expectations are managed and set.  There are families where the parents live with their son and have a miserable time, because they cannot understand why their daughter-in-law comes home so late from work.  Their son coming back late is perfectly acceptable, but not for the daughter-in-law. It really helps if expectations are set right in the first instance. The fact that both of them hold down jobs and that both their jobs are equally important is something that is best understood at the beginning rather than after things spin off into a point of no return. Pixie’s comment on this post is one such example.

Unreasonable expectations from all quarters can be equally de-stabilizing. Be it from the younger generation or the older. It makes life so much easier, if we could all set, manage and handle expectations at all fronts. Although I have to admit, managing expectations in professional life is a cake-walk in comparison to the managing expectations in personal life.

32 thoughts on “Managing Expectations

    • there is a saying in Management that we are taught at the start of the course…

      “You can’t keep everyone happy all the time”

      So I think we need to learn from this and understand that there would be times that you might not be able to please everyone around…so be it ! May be next time you do better and please the one you’d put off earlier..

      Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more.

      also like in work’s always better to take the buffer time into consideration and then commit of’s always nice if you could deliver before the said timeline..customer delight ! 😉

      Absolutely. A lot of times, people would commit to deliver before time, and then would have a tough time explaining why it could not be done. I prefer setting realistic expectations, which if we can exceed, is a bonus, isn’t it??

  1. Let me jump on the bandwagon and shout First!

    Et Tu, Bones.

    Expectations kill us…The fewer we have, the happier we end up being…

    Absolutely! You said it, Bones.

  2. there is a saying which goes like

    ” i dont know the key to happiness but key to misery is surely trying to keep everyone happy”

    expectations when not managed well can turn distarous for everyone

    There is no real point trying to keep everybody happy, it is just not possible, is it?

    brilliant post smiths

    Thanks Mon.

    • Well said Monika , how much ever we do we can never make everyone happy and the end result is we make ourselves sad. Managing expectations is tough and once you learn that you become successful at work and at home.

      So true

      Nice post Smitha

      Thanks myamusingmind.

  3. Totally agree..
    we all stretch ourselves beyond our means/ capacity to please others.
    And at the end of the day, it isn’t really worth it.

    Exactly. I really think it makes sense to choose what we really want to stretch ourselves for, what really matters to us, rather than try and do everything.

  4. One of your bests posts ever, Smitha. Loved every word… could empathise with most of what you have said. And yes, managing expectations in the work place is certainly easier than on the personal front.

  5. Again a post where I agree with you wholeheartedly, Smits.
    Yes its perfectly normal to have expectations out of your children. I know I have. I not only hope but expect my daughter grows upto be a good human being, a responsible adult. I dont think its wrong to expect that from your child, is it? But when the expectations of parents reach a height where the children are burdened and pressurized to perform, thats when they become unreasonable and unjust.

    “managing expectations in professional life is a cake-walk in comparison to the managing expectations in personal life.” I feel so too.

    Excellent post, Smits 🙂

  6. I have nothing more to add Smithu .. u hv said it all 🙂 🙂

    It makes much better sense to set expectations right, rather than set high expectations and fail to deliver – So so true!!!!!

  7. So true..managing expectation in personal life is so much difficult…and in my case, I give but can’t stop expecting..but have put a plug to it..(most of the time, it works sometimes the plug just comes off…)
    But u have written it all so well.

  8. Thats a lovely thot about post… 🙂

    When managing relations, I always stop myself from expecting things – I’ve never expected my mother or my mil to take care of my children. If they did it on their own, when they are free, its their pleasure time with grand daughters.
    I never expect even a phone call from other relatives…if I expect, it never happens and then I am doomed into unhappiness…if I want to talk, I call and talk.
    Sometimes, I dont even expect S to do things for me…I try to be happy with things – however they are…it was tough initially, now I’ve learnt.
    It keeps me guilt free and happy. If people visit, I am happy. If they dont (to hurt me purposefully), then I ignore and be happy.
    You’ve put it across, as a Management Student’s text book. I’ve learnt it as a clerk, being in the system for long. I think both means the same, hai na ???

    BTW, hv u stopped bloghopping ???? Too busy with Nablopomo ???

  9. I totally agree with this post Smitha.
    Although I have to admit, managing expectations in professional life is a cake-walk in comparison to the managing expectations in personal life.

    Because there are emotions involved in personal relationships 😐

    I know, and that complicates it all, doesn’t it?

    I have seen all this happening and have wondered at the sense of entitlement like you did… and I feel if parents bring up their new borns on their own, they are likely to do it in a more modern, scientific way.

    I agree! We have brought up our daughter without any help, all the advice we need was in books, on the net, and I do think we end up analyzing, understanding and hopefully doing a better job.

    I once saw a woman being offered ghee mixed in milk to drink during pregnancy (by her mother in law) because it makes it easier for the baby to be born! The girl had total faith in traditional methods and none in what the doctors said.

    IHM, I was told to drink – gobar – cow dung to have a normal delivery! I mean, I can’t still imagine it!

  10. I agree with this post – esp. the part of using family members as baby-sitters. I had an alternate problem though. For a while after my separation, I stayed with my parents and retained my nanny to take care of Ken. I worked flexi times and had a lot of time at home, but the moment my back was turned I often found my mother stepping in and either taking Ken away or ordering my nanny about so much that when I got home, I was faced with a tearful nanny and an angry mother. Like a man caught between a wife and mother. I think parents want to retain some old on the kids – through their grandkids if needed.

  11. Pingback: Playing Favourites | Any Excuse to Write…

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