Expectations, roles, and letting go

Today, I was reflecting about the performance of an employee in my company.

expectation mismatch

I realized, that a key part in the friction I experience with him, are my expectations of him – and mismatches in what actually happens against these expectations.

With some other employees, e.g. the developer who is building businessbreeze.de for me, there is no expectation mismatch. I am satisfied, in some ways my expectations are even exceeded by her!

expectation of roles

As a manager, as a friend, as a romantic partner we have expectations of the other people who play our counterparts.

These expectations are human, natural, and useful. After all, as a manager, you need to deliver certain results to the enterprise. You expect your team members to deliver on the results you need to achieve your targets for the enterprise.

As a romantic partner, we also have expectations – e.g. that our significant other will prioritize us.

I believe, that it is very useful to have these expectations of certain roles people play in your life. Because the roles require these expectations to be met – e.g. a romantic partner should be faithful (within the bounds of the agreed exclusivity).

At the same time it is important to realize that these are roles – and that people are not always a fit for the role. Or, they might be a fit initially, but as the role changes, or as they change, they might “lose the fit”.

letting go of expectations

So I believe, the answer is really once expectations have been frustrated, communication has been attempted and not proven fruitful, to let go of the expectations for a certain person / project.

Note: to let go of expectations for a certain person. Not to let go of expectations for a role!

In other words, if your partner cheats on you – and it happens repeatedly after communication – it is very useful to let go of the expectation / idea that this particular person should not cheat on you. This goes hand in hand with taking the role “romantic partner” away from the person, of course.

Basically: look for people who will “naturally” fit the roles you “need them to fit”. Instead of continuing to be frustrated by mismatched expectations, … and continuing to cling to the idea that a certain person has to fill a specific role in your life.

This allows you to update the model of the world in your head to a realistic model – you have realistic expectations of people who deliver on the expectations. And to let go of people in your life, who do not fill the expectations for the role you want them to play.

… or selecting a different role for them!

expectations in a dating context

In Medellín, I met a beautiful woman. I wanted to spend time with her to get to know her better, and I was given this opportunity. I took her out on a date in Cartagena, it was a really nice night.

After the date, we went for a walk – but once we returned to her hostel, she said goodbye very quickly: “Thank you for everything and have a good life”.

My expectation in a dating context (for her as a role “woman I continue to date”) was that we would spend some time talking before the night was over, and possibly even kiss. Also, that she would want to stay in touch and discuss our next date.

The world invites me to reconsider my expectations for this woman.

For the role of “female romantic interest”, my expectations – sustained interest, fast responses from the woman in question, are adequate and a good fit.

After the date we continued to be in touch – however, I feel that her answers take a significant time, again frustrating my expectations of her as “romantic interest”.

As a next step when expectations are frustrated, it is important to communicate – to see if there is a misunderstanding. If a person actually really wants to fill the role AND is capable of filling it with some guidance.

If the expectations continue to be frustrated after the communication, it is very beneficial to let go of the expectations – AND the role which is associated with these expectations.

There are many beautiful, warm-hearted and deeply engaging people on this planet – your role of “romantic partner” can be and will be filled.

Continuing to have expectations of someone who can’t or won’t meet them is madness.

Photo by HS Spender on Unsplash

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