When I Expect, I Disrespect; When We Agree, We Are Free!

What you expect from others is causing you grief and problems. One of my favorite coaches, Steve Chandler, loves to teach distinctions. This one is a dandy – Expectation versus Agreement.

Think about it. How does it feel when someone “expects” you to do something? How do you feel, trying to anticipate and live up to their expectations? At best it is a bit frustrating and stressful, and at worse it is demeaning and causes resentment, criticism and hard feelings. When I expect someone to come through, I am setting the stage for disappointment. And if they do perform “up to my expectations”, it is still as much about my approval as it is their performance. The whole dynamic of expectation is often filled with hurt feelings, disappointment, and judgment. Expectations dwell in the land of high drama.


But you ask, “Shouldn’t I expect my employee to be on time?”, or “Isn’t it appropriate to expect my daughter to show respect?” This is not about what is right or wrong, but what is effective.

I want to challenge you with this question: What good comes out of “expecting” someone else to do anything? If they meet your expectation, you are pleased based on your evaluation, and if they fail to meet your expectation, then you become the judge waiting to set them straight.

Agreements, by contrast, are birthed from mutual respect and understanding. They are created and owned by both parties. They are objective versus subjective. Great agreements are clear. They are a pleasure and honor to keep. People love to keep their agreements, but resent trying to please people by attempting to meet their expectations.


Based on this distinction, I recommend that you drop ALL expectations of employees, teen-age children, spouses, friends, family, and all other significant relationships, and go to work creating some wonderful agreements. It begins by asking good curious questions and listening, and then having fun creating an strong agreement based on your conversation. It takes effort, but most great things take work!

Here’s your action plan. Consider someone who is not meeting your expectation, set a meeting with them, and create a great agreement!






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