Assumptions and Expectations are the hidden poisons that slowly strangle relationships at work
Here’s installment 2 of create better relationships at work – 6 audio tracks and tips to enable you to craft good relationships from the beginning.
If you’re landing here for the first time check out part 1 here
Listen to the recording below, then work you way through the exercises below.
Noticing your assumptions and expectations
The Event Itself
Begin by writing a couple of sentences about what the event is. This isn’t an exercise in she said – he said and storytelling! Pick a work event that just happened, a one-to-one encounter or something that is just about to happen. Be honest with yourself, no one else will see it! Just write down what you notice.
What I Might Be Assuming/Making Up About It and the People Involved
Write down what your assumptions are. Then keep asking yourself “what else am I making up – based on the past, my fears about the future, what I believe about these people, what else is also going on in my life”.
Remember that your brain is really skilled at selecting bits of data that fit in with what you already believe. If you’ve made up your mind that this other person is lazy, a bad timekeeper or doesn’t listen then you’re going to notice every single time they do that. And you’re NOT going to notice when they get it right!
What Are You NOT Seeing? What Other Evidence Is Available To You?
Change your perspective and experiment with looking at this from the viewpoint of the other people involved, a TV camera or a helicopter. What else is there to see here?
What I’m Expecting This Other Person To Do For Me.
These expectations may be realistic or unrealistic, just write them down. Then you can have a laugh at yourself, dump the unrealistic ones and get clear with the other person. Only when you say your expectations out loud can you find out if the other person is thinking the same. Unspoken expectations are toxic.
You might also like to jot down what might happen if you DON’T deal with these things and leave them unvoiced
What about where there’s a change of circumstances? It’s worth thinking through what you might do if you are unable to meet your agreements. Like going back and saying
We agreed that the deadline for that piece of work is Friday. Machine X is broken or I’ve been asked by the team leader to do Y. I’d really appreciate your help in working out my priorities and how we’re going to achieve what’s needed
Only when we get clear with other people can we turn those assumptions and expectations into AGREEMENTS that are clear and easy to understand.