people aren’t always what you want them to be

expectations people disappointed

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“People aren’t always what you want them to be.
Sometimes they disappoint you or let you down, but you have to give them a chance first.

You can’t just meet someone and expect them to be everything you’re looking for and then be angry when they’re not every hope and aspiration you projected onto them.

It’s foolish to believe that someone will be what you imagine them to be. And sometimes, when you give them a chance, they turn out to be better than you imagined.

Different, but better. “

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Chloe Rattray

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Well. This is about expectations and how having expectations is bad <disappointing> and good <people like to strive toward expectations>.

No matter how cynical you are, or skeptical with regard to whether there is truly ‘good within all’, pretty much everyone expects everyone else to be the best version of who they can be.
The trouble is that our version of your ‘best version’ is … well … ours. Unfortunately, this “ours/you” expectation tends to be a pretty high standard for which the person we are eying at the moment has to meet.

We tend to not only expect people to be ‘like us’ in the ways we consider positive attributes, but then we also attached a wish list of expectations <based on some fairly idealistic thoughts of how people should be .. and how we see ourselves>.

Well. That brings to mind a Marilyn Manson quote:

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“Find out what’s really out there.

I never said to be like me, I say be like you and make a difference.

Marilyn Manson

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People are rarely what we expect them to be and they are rarely like us. And, frankly, we don’t want them to be like us, we want them to be like … well … them. But this creates the uncomfortable situation in that we then have no clue what to expect.

So what do we do? We fall back on ‘us’ <our bias & attitudes & beliefs> and build our expectations.

This is, frankly, silly if not stupid. We should focus instead on ‘different … but better.’

Me? Over the years I have become significantly better at setting aside expectations of people and permitting them to build what I should expect of them. Even then I have to constantly remind myself that people are less consistent than what I would like <to expect>.

I guess I believe people can change. I say guess because I think we are a little flippant with that thought. Flippant because I think we are more hopeful than reality suggests. Most people really don’t change that much. They may evolve as they grow, but people tend to be the people they were <just maybe a little more here and a little less there>.

And that’s okay.

Now. There is the inconsistency factor. Inconsistency is good in this case albeit confusing to others and makes it difficult to discern ‘what to expect.’

idea not expect what peopleBut.

Everyone is inconsistent because Life is inherently inconsistent and therefore we make mistakes. That’s kind of the way it is. If everything was always consistent the odds of us making as many mistakes as we do now would decrease significantly.

Unfortunately everything is not consistent <except in its inconsistency> and therefore, unfortunately, we make a shitload of mistakes.

Oh. And mistakes shape expectations as much as successes do.

Now. This means also means how you handle the mistakes matter in terms of setting expectations for people. If you own up to them, adapt, make some adjustments and move on … well … the mistakes don’t accumulate like a snowball but instead remain individual flakes you meet as you progress and are manageable in their smallness. Frankly, anything less ‘owning up’ is counterproductive, self-serving and carries a hue of non-accountability. I will also note that under the glare of circumstances ‘beyond our control’ <let’s call that Life’s shit> it is certainly aggravating, and sometimes even a little unnerving, when people don’t own up to their mistakes and we waste time & energy flailing about seeking blame.

Whew. Regardless. People aren’t always what we expect.

And, oddly, we get disappointed even if they are actually just a different version of what we said we wanted <expected> and THAT may be a better version <but we are so disappointed we don’t see it>.

Oh. Another thing about having expectations.

expectations outcome disappointment 1There is a really nonsensical thought that is strewn throughout the World Wide Web with regard to ‘have no expectations and you live in the now” … or have no expectations and you won’t be disappointed.”

What bullshit.

Utter nonsense.

Regardless of the fact our expectations are sometimes misguided and that we far too often judge people on some really out of whack expectations, expectations are part of Life.

They set standards.

When we expect nothing from anyone while we may save ourselves from being disappointed … it comes with a cost. With lower expectations we make less of an effort. We have convinced ourselves that fighting for things that are pretty important in life are no longer worth fighting for as a standard. And while some of our expectations are unrealistic the horizon aspect is almost always “best version of.”

Well.

That is a good expectation. And if you have it, or them, others around you tend to see them, feel them … and absorb some of the pressure to meet them.

Yes. It has been proven over & over again <research> people do better when more is expected of them. I am fairly sure this cause-effect is called the Pygmalion Effect. Study results have shown some consistently significant ‘better’ associated with this effect.expectation effect

A guy named J. Sterling Livingston is the one who wrote in 1969 about the Pygmalion Effect <named after the mythical sculptor who carves a statue of a woman that is brought to life>.

His title also pays homage to George Bernard Shaw, whose play Pygmalion explores the notion that the way one person treats another can, for better or worse, be transforming.

The influence of one person’s expectations on another’s behavior isn’t a recent discovery. More than half a century ago, Albert Moll concluded from his clinical experience that subjects behaved as they believed they were expected to – “the prophecy causes its own fulfillment”. Livingston states that creating these positive expectations is remarkably difficult but I would argue setting ANY expectations is difficult …. but we should do so.

Expectations challenge the status quo … even if the status quo is good & right.

That’s okay too. Affirmation is often as powerful as change. Accepting the status quo and not making any effort to push ourselves and those we care about to become better is almost like giving up hope for anything better.

Now. Expectations must always pass the test of reality before they can be translated into any real outcomes. Expectations must have more gravitas than the fluffy power of positive thinking or some generalized confidence that ‘it can & will happen.’ People are not motivated to reach for unattainable shit — they need to have some sense of realistic and achievable. Suffice it to say encouraging one to strive for unattainable goals is simply encouraging the eventuality of ‘give up trying’ and ‘settling for results that are lower than they are capable of achieving’.

Regardless. We need to and should have some pretty high expectations of people. All people. And while I know it seems counter intuitive to suggest that we should idealize what people can be, okay, some people, with regard to expectations because it most likely means a shitload of disappointment.reality expectation gap

But I remain steadfast in believing we SHOULD have expectations and we SHOULD set the standards high.

Research shows that while we will be disappointed initially the people themselves will be more likely to step up to meet some of the idealized expectations.

Our expectations can drive ‘better.’

The cost? We bear the cost in that we get disappointed. Shit. I will pay that price. It would be selfish to think otherwise.

People will disappoint us with regard to our own expectations.

People will more often surprise us if we are open to a different better version of our expectations.

But all of that is kind of irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how you feel … get over it … it is the objective that matters. Steven Covey said it the best:

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“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is.

Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

person expect treacherous paper townsStephen R. Covey

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Yes. It is foolish to believe someone will be as you imagine they will be.

But go ahead.

Have expectations.

Be prepared to be disappointed and, more often, surprised by something different and better.

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Written by Bruce