Have you ever heard the phrase “I just can’t please you!” or “Nothing is good enough!”? Whether it comes from your teenager, or your spouse – it’s a hard accusation to argue. But could they have a point? You want to set the bar high – for your family and for yourself. But when are those high expectations simply out of reach?
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend is here with how to manage expectations.
“Mind the Gap”
Most of the pain that comes from mismanaged expectations is the gap found between what one person expects and what the other person delivers. The bigger the gap, the bigger the pain you will feel. For example, if you expect your partner to want to spend time talking together every evening and he doesn’t, then the gap between your expectation (the desire to talk daily) and his delivery (no talking) is what generates your pain. The key to “Minding the Gap” is usually found by either lowering your expectations or getting the other person to raise their game. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time trying to get the other person to do the moving and rarely, if ever, evaluate our own expectations.
Action Item: Focus on what YOU can do to narrow the gap between your expectations and the other person’s delivery.
Inspect What You Expect!
Nothing creates more pain in a relationship than having expectations of your partner that are simply unrealistic. Unrealistic expectations create tension between you and those around you because how can you hold someone accountable to an expectation that really is unrealistic? Use the following five guides to perform a reality check on your expectations. See if your expectations are:
· Consistent – Do your expectations continuously change? Do the people around you have a hard time knowing what you really want?
· Achievable – Are your expectations actually achievable? Do people complain that you’re impossible to please? (Avoid absolutes like always, never, every….. “You should always be home when I’m home.”)
· Fair – Do you and those around you all need to live up to the same expectations? Are you the exception to your expectations?
· Universal – Do the majority of the people around you see your expectations as reasonable? Do they share the same expectations?
· Rational – Do your expectations come from your biggest fears or your highest principles?
When You Can’t Lower Your Expectations Then Broaden Them!
So what are you supposed to do if you can’t lower your expectations with the people around you and they’re still unwilling or unable to change? Well, you could keep trying to get them to do something they never seem willing to do or you could try something else. Here are three other tools to help you broaden your expectations instead of fighting about them.
· Live Your Life by More Than One Principle – Many times when we see that those around us aren’t living up to an important principle a fight ensues. For example, if our adult children violate the age-old principle of “honoring your father and your mother” and decide to stay home this year for the holidays instead of travelling to your house, what do you do? You could try to sit them down and explain the importance of the Ten Commandments, or you could ignore them or you could choose to be offended. You could also look to all of the other principles you believe in and see if they don’t add some new light to the scenario. For example, your children could also be exercising their freedom to choose, their sense of independence (which you fostered in them), the importance of growing their own family traditions, being financially smart by saving money, or the need for a true vacation. Besides these, you could also broaden your expectations by looking to other principles of your character such as unconditional love, tolerance, acceptance, and patience. In the end, most of our mismanaged expectations can be expanded by simply introducing other principles.
· Increase Your Understanding – Another way to broaden your expectations is by increasing your understanding about the situation. Ask questions and try to truly understand what is going on in the head of the other person. Don’t talk in order to debate their position, but instead to understand it. The basic rule is simply the more you know, the more you’ll know how to create a win-win situation. You could also talk to others who have handled similar situations or to those who have already been where you are.
· Look Forward to Tomorrow – Another way to enlarge your expectation is to include what you want tomorrow to look like. Too many times we end up arguing and creating fixed and rigid expectations based on our past experiences and fears. Instead, try to broaden your expectations by being clear about what you want your relationships to be like tomorrow. Ask yourself if this is a battle you have to win? What are the consequences if you take a stand on this issue? The clearer your views about tomorrow, the more ability you have to handle the conflicts of today.
If you live in Southern Utah, and want more relationship advice from Matt, attend:
Date Night with Matt Townsend
“The 7 Basic Needs”
Friday, July 29, 2011
$50 per couple (Dinner included)
801-747-2121 or www.DateNightswithMatt.com