We were new, they were new, and the future of our relationship held promise. I liked everything I had heard about her, and couldn’t wait to be her friend. With so much in common, friendship was a given…at least that was my Assumption. Yet, when invitations were not reciprocated, and phone calls were not returned, it became obvious that my Expectations were not going to be realized.
Assumptions and Expectations
For many years, I was naïve concerning the power of these two words. Nice words...useful in one’s vocabulary...harmless. What is the big deal? Well, it is a big deal. These two words pack a powerful punch inside families, friendships, offices, organizations, courtrooms, and conference rooms.
No longer oblivious, I am now a keen observer to the power they contain. In and of themselves, these are just two benign words. But place them inside a relationship and trouble starts brewing.
Consider the right punch.
A presuming, on one’s part, about the actions of another. (my definition)
I assumed you were making the reservations.
I assumed you were going to make the phone call.
I assumed you were paying the bill.
I assumed you were driving the children.
I assumed she would pay the difference.
I assumed they would let us know before now.
I assumed you were ok when I didn’t hear back from you.
I assumed you were putting gas in the car (or picking up the cleaning, or stopping by the bank).
I assumed my in-laws were available.
I assumed you and your team would complete the project.
The result? Friction and frustration.
Now consider the left punch.
An unrealistic premise regarding the affairs of life and relationships. (my definition)
I expected the conference to be better.
I expected the relationship to last longer.
I expected my job review to result in a raise.
I expected the church to step in.
I expected the partnership to flourish.
Assumptions and Expectations are subtle
Assumptions and Expectations operate within a person’s own mind and emotions
Assumptions and Expectations have a life of their own
Assumptions and Expectations are more important than we want to admit
Assumptions and Expectations have the power to disappoint and derail life and relationships
Is it possible to take the power out of the punch of these two words? Yes, but this will require mature intentionality. Solutions are available, but they don’t come instinctively. Here are four suggestions that are working for me:
1. Take personal ownership of one’s thought life; vigilantly monitor your thinking.
2. Take personal responsibility for communication in relationships.
3. Take care to reject passive aggressive behavior.
4. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and cut humanity, yourself included, some slack.
A Step Forward: It has aptly been said, “Expectations are seldom spoken until they are broken.” Think about it. Do you agree?