By: Katie Hart Smith | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Katie Hart Smith | Gwinnett Citizen
Katie Hart Smith

Isn’t it so disappointing when people fail to meet your expectations? Do you project your imaginary self into that particular situation and say, “Well, I would have done this instead, and definitely not that.”

But when we do that, aren’t we referencing a place, the familiar world of always knowing what our expectations are and where the bar has been set?  And to our surprise and disappointment, the people who fail us don’t always inhabit the same all-knowing world of expectations that we do. 

Shortly after Jeff and I married, I needed to find a new eye doctor. Jeff recommended his physician. An appointment was made and Jeff came with me to the office. During the pre-screening process before I met the doctor, the tech took pictures of my optic nerves and obtained baseline assessments of the vision in each eye.

However, there was one evaluation and machine I had never encountered before. It tested and measured the pressure in the eyes, screening for glaucoma. I followed the tech’s instructions, sat down at the machine, rested my forehead and chin against the metal bars, and stared at the red light in the monitor. I was told not to blink while the device buzzed and clicked. Then unbeknownst to me, a poof of air shot into my eyeball. I recoiled back in my chair and dropped the “F” bomb just as the eye doctor was walking by. I was caught completely off guard, horrified that this was going to be my first impression with my doctor, and mortified that the “F” bomb was the first word he would hear uttered from my lips. 

During the awkward moment of silence, Jeff politely interjected. ”Doctor, I’d like for you to meet my wife, Katie.”

As I shook his outstretched hand, I sheepishly grinned and he began howling in laughter. Relieved, I said, “I take it…that isn’t the response you were looking for on this test?” Ten years later at my yearly appointments, we still laugh about our first encounter.

So what went wrong? I completely failed to meet the tech’s expectations for this test. Why? She assumed I had been exposed to this type of eye testing before and as a result didn't communicate what was going to happen and tell me what she wanted me to do. Instead what she learned about me was that I had cat-like reflexes, used profanity when startled, and had no traces of glaucoma. 

Remember! Assumption and failure to communicate will never fill your bucket of expectations. As a result, your pail will always be empty and you won’t get the desired outcomes you are looking for. 

I know many of us hold remarkably intelligent and well-thought out conversations, arguments and justifications in silence in our heads. However, unless the nerve impulses strike our vocal cords and words are uttered, will our expectations be known and understood for all to comprehend.

I am always amazed at some of the mind games people play with each other by setting a guideline of unannounced rules in their head. When an unsuspecting person enters their mind game and violates the unspoken rule(s), the individual knowingly or unknowingly catches holy heck for the violation. For example, “If he doesn’t open the car door for me, he must not love me.” Or another favorite one of mine that I often hear is, “So and so didn’t respond to my Facebook post, so they must not like me, or must be avoiding me.” Or, “When I log onto Facebook, so and so logs off. Therefore, they must not want to chat with me.” WHAT? As Spock would say, “That kind of thinking and rationale is totally illogical.” And, yes, yes it is. Conclusion jumping and mind play just creates unnecessary drama, hurt feelings, and resentment. 

Adopt a bit of open-mindedness and empathy for the behavior and actions of others. When you do so, you create a paradigm shift when you learn the truth as to why people behave and act the way they do. Perhaps ask yourself, did I set the bar for expectations at a logical and rational setting? Is it always in a fixed position? Do I adjust it to accommodate for flexibility and tolerance in others? Build a larger platform for understanding and appreciation, because everyone wasn’t raised in the same household, with the same set of standards for manners, communication, politeness, relationship building, and professionalism.

More importantly, if you expect to be treated in a certain way, you have to teach people how you want to be treated. If you find it hard to communicate verbally what you want from others, try typing it out or writing it down. Use simple language and be direct, using as few words as possible. Important conversations that are tossed into a word salad coated with dressing aren’t easy to understand and valued. As a result, the key message tends to get overlooked and lost.

The key is to fulfilling expectations is to never assume and don’t be afraid to communicate exactly what you want and need so that you can fill your bucket of expectations. As a result, your pail will never be empty and you will get the desired outcomes you are looking for in life, love, and in business.

About Katie Hart Smith
Katie Hart Smith's column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, and entertains.  Smith, a published author for over twenty years, believes that words, written or spoken, have power. To learn more, visit www.katiehartsmith.com