Dangerous Expectations

Expectations are sneaky. They unconsciously run the show in the background of our minds, unspoken and uncommunicated. (i.e. “My kids will see the unfolded laundry and know it needs to be folded.” Or “I threw an amazing birthday party for my co-worker, so I am certain they will do the same for me.”) We create a secret mental picture of how things “should” go and then lean back and wait. And wait…

And then? Our people get to play the “guess why I’m mad” game. A joyless experience where nobody wins, but everyone gets a parting gift of resentment.

When our psychic messages aren’t received and acted upon to our precise specifications, we’re often left wondering why no one understands us or loves us as stupendously as we love them. It’s an unfortunate feedback loop that leaves us wanting, doomed to repeat that pattern forever and ever, amen.

Fear not, friends, because it doesn’t have to go this way! It’s possible for you to break the cycle of expectation and find joy, expression, peace, and (fingers crossed) folded laundry as well as fab prezzies. What’s the trick?

Noticing expectations when they appear and putting them on loudspeaker.

Once expectations are out in the open and clearly communicated to others, they can become requests or, even better, they can become agreements. When we make our inner monologues outer declarations, people and the world around us can change.

Is it magic? No, but it may feel like it.

When we take the time to get present to what we need, want to experience, accomplish, or desire from a place of intention and heart-centered purpose, and then share that information in a collaborative and compassionate way, we’re able to skip over trying to communicate via the psychic friends network: “Guess what I want and give it to me.”

Everyone has their own special flavor in this area. So, ask yourself:

Where in your life are you harboring unspoken expectations?

Places to look: at work, with your partner, in family relationships or friendships.

How has that played out?

Are important tasks slipping through the cracks at work? Do you lie awake at night scanning the resentment list in your mind while you fester about how it’s all on your shoulders?

How have your expectations colored those relationships?

Have your unspoken expectations created schisms in your friendships? Have they impacted your ability to trust others or whether they trust you?

Have you been on the receiving end of an unspoken expectation?

Is there anyone in your life who expects you to psychically meet their needs? What is that experience like for you? How does it feel? What do you wish you could say to them?

As you think through these questions, jot your thoughts down in a notebook or drop them into a note on your phone and come back to them later. Maybe even spend 10 minutes journaling about it, or discuss your unspoken expectations with a trusted friend.

The biggest opportunity here is to raise the awareness around where you have unspoken expectations and how those expectations can be brought out into the light of day and transformed into agreements, from a place of intention, purpose, clarity, and kindness.

What does that look like?

If your co-workers aren’t using the necessary communication tools or project planning platforms at work and important tasks are falling by the wayside, set up an in person meeting to find out how they’re doing. Maybe they need some training? Or support? Or maybe you weren’t clear with them about what you needed from them, and this is a great opportunity to review the scope of work and reconnect with your “why”s and “what for”s around this particular project. Maybe your team needs more connection and communication time? Maybe you do too? Set up a daily quick connect and do a responsibility role call and check-in. Look at that, everyone is winning.

If you planned a rockin’ birthday party for your sister and your birthday is on the horizon, talk to your sister. Ask her if she’ll plan something for you. Unless you want to be part of the planning, in which case, tell your sister you’d like her to co-plan it with you. It’s your birthday, you’re allowed to say how it goes. But if you expect others to know psychically that you want a Lizzo themed party and tres leches cake without saying so, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Tell the people what you want. Tell it nicely when you’re not swimming in hurt feelings. Let them respond with their perspective. And then? Have a collaborative conversation. But before you do that, ask yourself:

What is your higher purpose or intention in this conversation?

Being intentional takes thought and consideration. It’s about taking ownership and responsibility for your experience. Intentional people see themselves as the creators of their lives and do so in partnership with others, in lieu of expecting others to know what they want or need. Being intentional can give you increased access to creativity, motivation, forward momentum, connection to purpose and vision, empowerment, joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and power.

Creating awareness around your unspoken expectations is not meant to be used as a weapon against yourself. No fair beating yourself up when you notice a place in your life where you’re holding resentment against others for not being mind readers. This exploratory mission is intended to support you in making more empowered choices and taking new actions to create win/win agreements.

Once we accept that the rest of the world might not automatically be in sync with our unspoken expectations, we can be liberated from frustration, victimization, disappointment, resentment, jealousy… all the spicy stuff that sets us up for failure again and again. Why not try winning through agreements instead?

To learn more, visit www.lumoleadership.com or follow @lumoleadership on Instagram.


LUMO is a collective of certified executive and leadership coaches and trainers. We use the tools, principles, and philosophies of leadership coaching to empower parents to become leaders in their careers, their relationships, and any other areas of their lives where they are feeling unmoored, disempowered, or not living up to their full potential. We provide companies the training to support their parent employees in a radical new way.