Get on the Same Page-Get in Tune with Others

20 Jun

While at work, you get a call from your mate. The call isn’t unusual, but what you are hearing is: Your mate has just been offered a great deal on a new car. Immediately, your mind races as you reply, “You know I hate SUV’s and don’t care for leather seats.”   Your mate responds by saying, “But sweetheart, this is such a great deal. I don’t want to turn this one down. Let’s talk about it later.”  Suddenly, you hear yourself saying “OK” and hanging up the phone.

Your day isn’t over yet. Several days ago, you asked a peer in the sales department to give you some sales projections on a couple of products, and he has failed to get back to you. You’re really feeling pressured, because these numbers are to be incorporated into a larger budget report. He explains that he’s almost finished, and by late afternoon he’ll have everything ready. You say fine, but you think to yourself that his lateness is going to put you under the gun, because you really like to proof things carefully before sending them on to your boss. Afternoon arrives, and he hands you the sales projections. After glancing at the figures, you notice that he gave you projections for one, two, and three years in advance. You feel a tinge of anger run down your spine as you explain that all you needed were figures for a single year in advance. Besides saying he’s sorry, he tells you, “I thought you would have wanted to see some more figures. One year seemed inadequate, and I thought that more numbers would be helpful. If I had known, I could have gotten this to you a lot sooner.”

When you recover from that incident, you decide to check your e-mail messages. To your surprise, you get a short note from your boss with an attachment. You go to the attachment, only to find out that one of your customers contacted your boss directly about a matter that you were in the process of handling. Once again, you feel your stress level rising as you ask yourself, “How could my customer bypass me and go to my boss without telling me?”

What do these three snapshot scenes have in common? On the surface, what’s going on appears to be a communications problem. If we look more deeply, though, it becomes apparent that the expectations of the parties involved in all three situations are unmatched. Unmatched expectations span the spectrum from simple, everyday exchanges to more persistent or extensive matters. We all have expectations for ourselves and for others; expectations exist in our relationships at work as well as in our relationships with family and friends. Strong relationships are always rooted in matched expectations.

Big or small, important or insignificant, whenever expectations are unmatched, frustration levels rise and desired outcomes are put at risk. Being able to “move” forward is difficult. So what’s needed first is to listen for and pay attention to expectations that are matched.

Even though you cannot have total control, you can pay attention to and watch for expectations that are matched- prior to taking what happens around you.

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