Did you ever scroll through social media profiles of influencers sharing their picture-perfect lives full of glamour and success and wondered how they got there?
If you’re anything like me, you later looked at your own life full of struggles, fears, and unaccomplished goals and felt frustrated about your own progress.
You might think of all the things you still need to take care of and wonder why your life feels so miserable while others seem so happy.
And most importantly, you feel like you’re massively behind in life.
You start to feel a little anxious. You believe you’ve made wrong choices and start to feel like a “failure.”
Sadly, wondering whether we’re “enough” is a common thought because comparing ourselves to others is now easier than ever before.
Social media and societal expectations make it hard to acknowledge our own progress because we’re so focused on what others are doing and achieving.
Yet the truth is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if it might seem so at first sight.
We usually think that others are doing better because we only see the bright sides of their lives. And that’s partly because our perception of what a “good life” should look like is so screwed due to unrealistic expectations.
You might see someone’s big house and their fancy vacation photos, but you have no idea how peaceful or miserable they actually feel in that house or during that vacation.
Ultimately, “good” and “better” are based on your perspective. You can be happy with very little or own anything yet feel miserable.
The good news is, whether we’re doing well in life is mostly defined by small elements of our daily life:
You know what you *don’t* want
Most people will tell you, “you need to know what you want in life,” but the truth is, knowing what you don’t want is equally powerful.
If you know that you don’t want a typical office job, you’re a huge step ahead — even if you don’t know exactly what kind of job you want instead.
You might not know what your ideal relationship would look like, but you might know exactly what you don’t want based on your previous experiences. This information alone will help you make the right decisions too.
You can celebrate the wins of others
If you have a pure heart, you’ll be able to wish good for others and celebrate with them instead of feeling bad about their success.
So many people believe they need to constantly compete with their colleagues and friends while the truth is that we all can win.
We’re living in an abundant world full of options and opportunities for everyone, and it’s possible that we all do well in life.
You’re not hyped about every new trend
Here’s a truth most people will never accept: You don’t need to be up to date on every trend, and you can say no to materialism.
So many people’s purchasing decisions are based on what society and random ads tell them to buy. Similarly, their big life decisions are also shaped by those trends.
Escaping that cycle isn’t always easy, but it’s possible: You can live your life according to your own needs without following every new trend.
I used my last phone (a Samsung Galaxy S8) for almost five years until it broke down.
Phones are useful devices, but they can also be our greatest enemies. Most people spend way too much time staring at their screens anyway, so I consciously decide not to prioritize having the newest devices.
And I never understood why I should pay thousands of dollars for a new phone if I could get an older model for almost no money.
Once my old phone broke down, I extended my contract and got a new phone for free. It’s not the latest model but is a lot better than the previous one and does everything it should do. I’ll use it until it doesn’t get the job done anymore, and then I’ll get the next one.
The same is true for any other device I use in my daily life.
Most people live paycheck to paycheck because they’re drowning in small monthly payments for items they purchased to prove their social status.
If you can ignore those stupid games and make more thoughtful (and sustainable) choices, you’ll be able to detach yourself from that pressure to constantly buy things you don’t even care about and instead use your money to create a life you enjoy.
So many people think their material possessions will help them be happier or feel “more successful,” yet what truly happens is that they end up feeling miserable and drowning in consumer debt.
Luckily, genuine happiness isn’t rooted in “things” but in relationships and our inner emotions.
You’re a little skeptical
A healthy dose of skepticism helps you seek truth instead of shallow information.
Questioning life helps you look beyond the surface and find new paths you’ve never thought about before.
Most people do whatever they’re told to do without ever asking why. They act like puppets because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.
By doing the opposite, you’re stepping up for yourself and showing the world that you want more than the ordinary.
You feel connected
Research proves that meaningful connections are one of the most important elements of happiness. Plus, they even influence our health.
The good news is, you don’t need dozens of friends. In fact, the number of relationships we can nourish at a given time is finite anyway, and it makes more sense to maintain a small number of meaningful relationships instead of having shallow conversations with hundreds of people.
And if you don’t feel that sense of connection yet, you can now start to consciously build your circle with like-minded people. You could, for instance, join local events and clubs to meet people with similar interests.
If that feels too hard, you could even just start by joining online communities, which might later lead to real-life friendships as well.
You know how to step back to enjoy life
Even though a good life isn’t necessarily defined by what you accomplish, having certain goals and a vision of the future helps you stay energized and motivated.
Researchers even found that having a purpose can prolong our lives.
Having a strong purpose is also one of the common attributes of blue zones, which are five specific regions of the world where a great percentage of the population lives up to age 100 or more.
Yet, in Blue Zones, purpose isn’t necessarily defined by your work.
Their definitions are loosely translated as what makes life worth living. And if we’re honest, for most of us, our work isn’t what makes our lives more meaningful.
It’s our relationships, the voluntary work we do, or our hobbies that add meaning to our lives.
Yet more than half of America’s employees report that they lack proper work-life balance and work more hours than they feel comfortable with.
Working less and spending more time on other activities isn’t always easy because most of us grew up being told that we need to be hardworking to be worthy, yet it’s crucial.
And even just being aware of this fundamental truth is a step toward living a better life.
You’re not afraid of asking for help
Life can be so simple and good if we put our egos aside and ask for help whenever we need it.
We’re all good at certain things, yet we suck at others, and there’s no shame in being bad at something.
Whether it’s asking a friend or getting professional help — allowing yourself to get supported is the ultimate lifehack because it helps you save time and do things correctly instead of struggling on your own.
You can admit your mistakes
Peacefully accepting your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions instead of blaming others shows that you can let go of the past. Plus, it also proves that you don’t let your ego dictate your future.
Blaming others is always easier and more comfortable, yet, it’s also what keeps us stuck.
If you can accept that it’s mostly your own choices and actions that have led you to your current life, you’re more self-aware and emotionally mature than most people will ever be.
You may not be where you want to be yet, but if you can stay patient and allow yourself to slowly discover new opportunities for growth, you’ll eventually end up exactly where you want to.
Even though we’d all like to have a little more stability and certainty in our lives, the truth is that we’ll never have it.
We’re all living for the first time, and each challenge we face just teaches us new lessons about ourselves and the world we’re surrounded by.
And even if we constantly want to improve ourselves and be happier, healthier, and wealthier, we need to stop sometimes and appreciate the progress we’ve already made.
At the end of the day, life is finite. So what’s the point of constantly chasing new goals if we never sit down and relax, never watch sunsets, or never dance until our feet hurt?
While the holidays can create some of the happiest moments in your life, they can also cause a great deal of stress. On top of your typical schedule of work and managing your home and kids, there is shopping to do, menus to plan, and food to prepare. Moreover, there is the possibility of having to deal with family disagreements, schedule conflicts, and financial issues. While this all may seem overwhelming, there is good news. You can still reduce holiday stress, even with all the extra activities and preparations.
Following are proven strategies to help you decrease stress and tension. Some of these methods may be so effective that you’ll choose to use them all year, and not just during the holidays!
1. Acknowledge That Everything Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect. The holiday commercials and movies on television really do miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family gatherings.
• Accept that you can enjoy some wonderful holiday get-togethers regardless of whether the kids accidentally spill a bit of the Christmas punch or you’re having trouble locating your festive napkin rings.
• Believe me, most people will hardly notice if the pies baked a little too long or you forgot the cranberry sauce.
2. Purchase Your Gifts Early. When you get holiday shopping out of the way early on, you can prevent added last-minute pressure. You won’t be dealing with other shoppers during peak shopping times, and you won’t have to worry about making split-second decisions on gifts.
• Another way to avoid this stress altogether is to do all of your holiday shopping online so you can beat the crowds!
3. Scale Down Your Holiday Plans. Because adults can sometimes have an overly idealistic view of the holidays that springs from their childhood experiences, this strategy can be a challenge. Scaling down your plans involves being more flexible in your thinking about the holidays.
• Let go of feeling the need to plan and carry out elaborate, lavish celebrations. Maybe you’d rather have smaller, more intimate gatherings with friends spread out over a month or two, rather than a big event that makes it difficult to connect with others.
• Essentially, know that you don’t have to reproduce the special holiday memory you have in your mind to have an amazing time. You also don’t have to find the perfect gift, spend the most money, or have a room piled with presents to show your love to others.
• Try to remember—“It’s the thought that counts.” Most people will never remember the cool gift you got for them that one year. But they will have fond memories of the quality time you spent together as a family.
4. Take Shortcuts to Save Time. Figure out simpler ways to do things that will provide more time for other holiday tasks and activities.
• One good example: Rather than baking pies, order them from a nearby restaurant that’s known for its delicious baked goods.
• When shopping, it’s okay to purchase gift cards as presents. Many people actually prefer to receive a gift card so they can then choose what they want. Gift cards are easy to find at most stores, satisfy nearly everyone, and will cost you less in wrapping paper.
5. Take Some Time to Yourself. While we often take the time to think of others during the holiday season, we can also forget our own needs. Remember to schedule some time for yourself and concentrate on winding down. To care for others, you first have to take care of your own health and well being.
• One way to take some time for yourself for relaxation is by scheduling a massage.
6. Stay Calm. While it may not be an issue for every family, sometimes the togetherness causes conflicts and clashing. Before you join a family event, tell yourself that you’ll take the high road if need be. You don’t want a disagreement or any tension to ruin the opportunity to have fun during the holidays.
• If necessary, take a time out and walk around the block or go to another room to take some deep breaths to center yourself. When you’re ready, you can rejoin the festivities.
8. Watch your Nutrition. It’s not fair to yourself nor even practical to completely avoid indulging around the holidays, but at the same time, you can remain in control. Watch what you’re putting into your body, as large amounts of certain foods can affect how you feel. The two big ones to be mindful of are caffeine and sweets.
9. Buy Yourself a Present. While you’ve been spending money on everyone else, there’s no reason why you can’t buy yourself a little something. This way, you can ensure that you’ll get something you want. • Remember the massage suggestion earlier in this article? Maybe it’s something else you’d prefer. Either way, you deserve it!
10. Get Enough Rest. The holiday season is generally an exciting time. You may lose sleep due to stress or even because of the excitement. Either way, be kind to yourself by getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Getting less than eight hours of sleep per night may set you up for stress without realizing it.
• If you need a reminder, use the settings on your phone to alert you when it’s time to start settling down and getting ready for bed.
11. Learn to Delegate. If you realize that you’re in charge of too many things, don’t pile on the stress—instead, delegate the tasks. Be wise enough to recognize when you need some help and ask for it. You can even involve your children with certain holiday preparations which they may very much enjoy! This year, decide to reduce your holiday stress. By shedding the urge to be perfect, beginning holiday shopping earlier, scaling down expectations, and using shortcuts to save time, you’ll bring your tension level way down.
Think about what you truly want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Then, you can let go of expectations based on the past and enjoy your time together. Ultimately that’s what the holidays are for—creating meaningful moments and connections with those who matter most.
When you muster up the courage to apologize to someone that you harmed, it says a lot of great things about your character. When you tell your apology the right way, it makes a much more impactful difference. An essential quality in any apology is the sincerity and delivery of the message. What you have to say is necessary, but the manner and method in which you say it carries more weight.
In this article, we examine the 15 most important aspects to take into consideration when apologizing to a friend, loved one, or anybody who you owe the conversation. There are certain mindsets that you have when approaching the conversation, as well as appropriate types of locations and times for it to mean more. It is also vital to have an action plan to follow up with the person after giving the apology.
Understand the Reasons to Apologize
Before you apologize, you must understand why you will have the conversation in the first place. There are usually five reasons why someone may need to give an apology. The first is to open the line of communication between you and the other person of value. Having a common understanding that an apology is needed is the first step toward a healthy dialogue when giving an apology.
Another key reason you would need to apologize is to express your feelings of remorse and regret what you did. By admitting this to the other person, you also acknowledge that you were wrong in this situation. When you become aware of your actions and are upfront about your wrongdoings, you show a sense of humility that will increase the chance of the other person accepting your apology.
When apologizing to someone early in your time knowing them, it may lead to a crucial discussion about what is allowed and not allowed within the scope of the relationship. This type of talk will set boundaries and expectations for future decisions. By knowing what gets expected of each other, you are less likely to experience issues down the road.
Apologizing is also a great way to learn from your mistakes. By breaching a discussion about your wrongdoing intimately with someone, it allows you to articulate how you will be better next time verbally.
Apologize in Person Rather than via Phone or Text
If you want to convey the full value and emotion behind your apology, it is best to have the conversation in person. It is easy for bullies to hide behind a screen when they are saying things online, and you could do the same with an apology. Anybody who apologizes through a text message or email is taking the easy way out. By not apologizing in person, you are shying away from any raw emotions that come with it.
When you meet with someone in person for an apology, it sends a message to them that you want to dedicate enough time to making amend with them. When you schedule the window to meet with them, you should arrange so that you have no commitments right after it. This planning ensures that you will have all the time you need to formally apologize and then discuss more topics and game plan afterward.
When you set up the time to apologize, make it known to the person that you will not be able to communicate effectively unless you can speak with them face-to-face. When you meet up with them, give them your undivided attention and make excellent eye contact while you are making your points. Making the apology in person also allows you to read his or her body language as you communicate your points.
Find a Location and Time for the Apology
Once you have established that you can make the apology in person, the kind of location where you apologize is equally essential. You must make sure the site is private, quiet, and free of distractions. If you go to a noisy place, the other person may not be able to hear from you. If possible, do it in the privacy of your home or theirs, but you should give them the authority to pick the location of the apology.
You also want this to be a unique conversation shared between only you and the person. If you go to a shared space, someone might overhear what you are saying. You may also withhold information or communicate differently with your body language, knowing that there are people around. When you surround yourself with privacy, you can give undivided attention to the other person.
The time of the apology is also an important component. Work hard to fit your schedule around the time that the other person wants. A good idea would be to make the apology over lunch or dinner when the person is not in the middle of the work or stress. An apology during the nighttime would allow you to have a full conversation without having to worry about getting back to your daily obligations.
Imagine Everything from the Other Person’s Perspective
As you should in any conversation, you should seek to understand the other person before getting them to follow you. Before you formally apologize, put yourself in his or her shoes. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were them. Even though you cannot truly feel what they feel, showing empathy will allow you to deliver your apology better if you can get on the same wavelength as the other person.
You should consider all potential impacts of your wrongdoing or mistake. Was the person that you apologize to the only person who was indeed affected? By contemplating all the indirect implications of your error, you can address these components in your discussion so that you can apologize to the best of your ability. If the situation calls for it, you can bring all the impacted parties together for the conversation.
By seeing the events from the other person’s perspective, you can ask more educated questions. Significant inquiries result in a more extended, more meaningful dialogue between you and your friend or loved one. Take time to think hard about what he or she dealt with in the past. Their history, relationships, and other past traumas give you insight into how you can approach your apology effectively.
Manage Your Expectations
Managing your expectations is vital when making an apology. Saying “I’m sorry” does not automatically mean that the other person will accept it right away. It is a good idea to taper your expectations if the apology does not go as planned. Everybody handles trauma and negative situations in different ways. One of the most important things to remember is that the apology is about the other person, not you.
You may have negatively affected someone, and time could be the best healer in your situation. So, the apology will not be the means to the end, but it will be a crucial step in the grand scheme of the whole process. Part of full forgiveness will be letting your follow up actions communicate more than your words do. Outlining an action plan not to make the mistake again will get discussed later.
There is a minimal chance that the accepting of forgiveness might be impossible. Depending on the severity of your actions, the other person may express that they could never forgive you. The best thing to do here is to communicate your sincere apology and continue to show that you mean what you say. Opening this possibility before you make your apology will help you remain mentally stable.
Express Remorse about Your Mistake in Your Apology
Expressing genuine remorse for your mistake will get shown not only through your words but through your body language and facial expressions. Your choice of words and phrases need to be authentic, deliberate, and right to the point. Everybody makes mistakes, say things they do not mean, and acts irrationally. But it is all about how you reflect and show you are genuinely sorry about your error.
When you express regret, be very clear and communicate on why you are having the conversation in the first place. You could be attempting to strengthen communication or be upfront that you regret your actions so much, that you need to schedule this discussion about it so that you can formally apologize. You should be apologizing for the right reasons and not for ulterior motives.
The timing of your apology makes a critical case for your genuine remorse for your actions. The longer you wait after the mistake gets made, the less the message means to the other person. Depending on the nature of the transgression, try your best to make sure the other person learns about the mistake from you rather than someone else. If they find out before you tell them, follow up immediately.
Empathy is an essential aspect of expressing regret in your actions, so make it known to them that you are sincerely sorry for both the direct and indirect impacts of the situation.
Admitting responsibility for your part in the mistake is one of the most critical aspects of a sufficient apology and being upfront and honest about your specific behaviors, actions, and the violations of trust that occurred. Make sure to empathize with the person and understand who your mistake impacted all. Address the potential future impacts in your apology to make it more authentic and real.
Another important aspect is to understand the details as to why your specific action caused their emotions. The other person might be going through a variety of different emotions for different reasons. It is essential to understand all of these, address them, and talk about what you could have done differently. Addressing these facts will make communication more direct and productive.
Throughout the whole conversation, do not assume anything about the other person’s feelings, or how you think your words are coming across. Before you end the discussion, it should get fully understand how each person feels that the meaning behind everything got communicated.
Lastly, avoid shifting the blame onto anything and anyone else. This deflection of blame will take away fro the sincerity of your apology. Take full responsibility for everything you did and own everything.
Make Amends with the Other Person
You can say everything that needs to get told during the apology, but the follow up actions are what matter the most. It is essential to let the other person know that you will make it up to them in some way or another. You should outline a plan or schedule a future event to let them know that you are committed. This next event could be a dinner, a group event in which you include them, or some other value.
Another simple way to make amends is to tell them you will not make a mistake again, and then let your actions do the talking. Once you make your initial apology, revisit the conversation weeks or months down the road to circle back on your promise. It takes a big person to learn from his or her mistakes, and you can make amends by putting this into practice. It takes much longer to earn trust than it does to lose it.
By promising to make amends in the future, you put your reputation on the line. If you do not follow through with your future commitment, many people will question your character and trust. You create a high risk, high reward situation by promising to make amends. One thing you could do to keep yourself accountable is to write this conversation down in your journal so that you stay serious about it.
A refreshing, unique strategy for an apology is to express gratitude in different ways throughout the conversation. It is vital to let the other person know that you appreciate their time and that you are grateful that they gave you a chance to offer an apology. Showing that you are thankful for this opportunity shows that you genuinely care to make amends and try to correct your wrongdoing.
You can also show appreciation for everything that gives you in the relationship. You can thank the other person for sharing good times with you. If you have known the person for a long time, shed light on the memorable times shared. You can then let them know that making it up to them is essential to you because of how much trust you already built. A loyal person should get valued as such.
When showing that you are thankful for your person, make sure your words count. It is not what you say, but how you say it. Eye contact is something that often gets overlooked in regular conversation, so give them undivided attention throughout the entire conversation. People want to feel important and appreciated, and you are sure to give your apology more weight by taking this sincere, grateful approach.
While you might be doing a majority of the talking at first, listening is just as critical during the conversation that follows an apology. No matter what happens, the other person wants to feel understood and valued. You cannot connect with a person and show empathy without actively listen while he or she is talking to you. Do not just listen with your ears but listen with all your body language.
When the other person is talking, look them in the eye and show affirmation that you hear what they are saying — nodding your head a few times when they make an extra important point will show that you get locked in on what they are saying. When it is your turn to talk, reiterate what they just said and expand upon how you will continually work to remedy the situation. Do not interject and respond respectfully.
Another way to show that you are effectively listening is to ask fantastic questions. Focus on posing inquiries that revolve around how the other person feels. The facts are one thing, but it is essential to focus on the emotions of the person and where they stand mentally. When you bring great questions to the table, you prolong the conversation and make it healthier and more meaningful.
Write Down Your Apology
If you want to keep yourself fully accountable throughout the entire apology process, it would be helpful for you to write your thoughts, actions, and plans out. This strategy can get done in a journal, if you already do that, or on a sticky note that you can place in plain sight for yourself. When you put your thoughts on paper, it makes them more real because you think them, then you see them, then you repeat them.
Another reason why you might write down your apology is that you could be concerned about how your words will come off when you apologize. It is entirely reasonable to get nervous going into a conversation such as this one, so you could outline what you will say on paper. This strategy could help you organize your thoughts and help you feel more prepared when you sit down with the other person.
One thing you need to keep in mind here is not to make your apology seem too rehearsed and scripted. While it is good to plan and write words down, you want to make sure that you come off as a sincere friend when you have the conversation. When you are done with the conversation and have followed up steps to take, it is vital to put these down on paper as well to keep yourself committed to the promise.
Do Not Offer Excuses
The act of offering excuses is an easy trap to fall into when giving your apologies. The simple way out would be to try and explain your actions and provide justification as to why you did something. It is normal to try and defend yourself. But again, this conversation is not about you, and it is about the other person. Your priority should be to fully understand how you emotionally affected them, not to defend yourself.
Excuses are dangerous to use because it might make you feel better about yourself to use them, but they will severely weaken your apology. Offering reasoning as to why you did something will discount the meaning of your words in the other person’s eyes. Instead, be upfront that you are taking full ownership of your actions. Do not shift the blame on to other things to reduce responsibility.
A great way to prevent yourself from making excuses is first to explain what you did, then immediately follow it up by expressing that it was the wrong decision. You should be upfront by saying there is no reason for you to make the other person feel the way you did. And while it was not your intention, be cognizant of what you did and incorporate that into the apology.
Be Fair to Yourself When You Make an Apology
Throughout the entire apology process, you need to establish the difference between taking full responsibility and accepting blame for too much. You want to communicate that what you did was wrong and work to make amends, but do not be too hard on yourself while doing so. It is good to focus on earning forgiveness from the other person, but do not forget to forgive yourself as well.
It is also essential to realize that humans are not perfect and make mistakes. While you cannot control what the other person will say after you apologize, you can control how you respond and learn from failure. You will improve yourself and develop, and the repairment of the relationship with the other person will eventually come with it. Give yourself a chance to rebound from your misstep.
When you apologize, let the other person know that you are working to become a better person from the entire experience, not only for them but for your own sake. Be humble throughout the apology, but make sure to stay healthy mentally so you can take care of yourself too.
Do Not Expect Instant Forgiveness
The entire apology does not happen in a single conversation, so you cannot expect the person to accept your statement 100% right away. Depending on the nature of the mistake you made, it could get fixed with one conversation. But everybody’s healing process and timeline is different, and it is essential for you to recognize this fact.
Be forward about this in your apology and let them know that you wanted to have this conversation right away because it is essential to you. Do not put pressure on the other person to accept your apology because that could make everything worse. Be prepared for them to ask for space from you. Spending time apart from the other person could end up being a blessing to let the apology clear the air and sit.
In the days and weeks after the apology, be sure to follow up and see how the person is doing. Do not bombard them with messages or calls but let them know you are there to talk if they still want to. But through the entire experience, respect their space if they ask for it.
Promise That You Won’t Make the Same Mistake Again
When you commit not to make the same mistake again, your loyalty and trust will get put in the spotlight. This step is an important one for you and your relationship with the person because it puts pressure on you to follow up on your promises. It is critical to reassure the other person that you have an action plan to alter your behavior. Be specific when talking about how you will do that going forward.
After you outlined your plan, schedule a time with the other person to have a touchpoint on how well your changed behavior affects the relationship. By putting in the extra effort to follow up on your apology, you will increase your chances of repairing the relationship.
Conclusion: Be Sincere, and Actions Speak Louder Than Words
As you can see, there are many essential things to take into consideration when giving your apology. The most important thing for you to do is be real with them. Do not provide excuses or an explanation for what you did but own it. Take full responsibility, then be forthright about your action plan to make amends and not make the same mistake in the future.
The other person wants to feel important and valued by the time the conversation ends. By actively listening to them and being sincere with your words and body language, you will show them that you are grateful for their time. One of the more important things to remember is that the formal apology is half the battle, and the other half is following through with your actions. You are capable of remedy.
When my wife and I were first married, we went to meet with a counselor to learn some strategies for improving our relationship. I will never forget his advice after hearing both of us talk about our challenges.
He said, “You both need to do a better job of managing your ‘expect-or’.” Never having heard the term before, I asked him, “What do you mean by that?”
He quickly replied, “Life is a lot easier if you don’t have any expectations.”
Just as quickly, I vehemently disagreed. I thought, “How can you be in relationship with someone and not have any expectations?”
Since that time, I have learned that what our counselor said was true. I have discovered that many of our personal and professional frustrations stem from violated expectations, particularly those which we have not clearly identified or communicated to others.
Here are a number of expectations that may create problems in your working relationships with others if you are not giving them your attention.
1. Expectation of awareness
Often we don’t realize that we haven’t identified our expectations, nor have we distinctly communicated them, until we get different results than what we expected. When this happens, it is necessary to take a look at what we expected and determine if we clearly communicated our desires.
If you are in doubt, then you have no one to blame for your unmet expectations but yourself. We assume that others are aware of what we expect, but often they aren’t. Sometimes we become so busy or distracted that we fail to make others specifically aware of what we want.
2. Expectation that others read my mind
Because our thoughts and feelings about something seem obvious to us, we presume that they are to others as well. We figure if people know us and are tuned in, they should know what is needed without it being spelled out. Making these types of assumptions is a recipe for miscommunication and frustration.
3. Expectation of clear communication
When we take the time to tell people what we want, we suppose that they clearly understand what was communicated. Differences in communication style, life experience, education, age, various levels of authority, etc. mean that we might not understand each other in the same way. There are too many variables to assume understanding without being specific and allowing for clarifying questions.
4. Expectation of similar performance
We each have a level of performance and ability we are accustomed to achieving. It is common to expect people to perform exactly the way that we would. If you haven’t clearly explained how something should be done, you can’t assume that others will do it the way that you would.
5. Expectation of job satisfaction
Attaining job satisfaction rests with both the manager and the employee. Each is dependent upon the other to meet their expectations. The manager has the responsibility to meet the expectations of the employee. The employee is also required to meet the expectations of the manager.
If neither party has ever explored one another’s expectations, then it is entirely possible that neither party’s expectations will ever be met. So much for job satisfaction.
6. Expectation of engagement
Managers may expect employees to take responsibility for improving their engagement, while employees may expect that managers will take responsibility for their disengagement. When this happens, each party may be silently waiting for the other to meet their expectations. Meanwhile, nothing happens.
7. Expectation of infallibility
We would like to think that we are above making missteps. Because we are all different, you can trust that your expectations will be violated, plus you will sometimes not meet someone else’s expectations. The likelihood of difficulties will dramatically decrease as we discuss our expectations of others. Expectations are often held, but not communicated. Therein lies the problem.
8. Expectation of competence
Because we assume that no news is good news, we expect that the absence of negative feedback means that we are doing a good job or that our manager is satisfied with our performance. We may also assume if we don’t hear about problems from our direct reports, that all is well. Given that people are generally afraid to talk about what matters most, if you want feedback, you had better ask for it. If you don’t ask, you may never know.
9. Expectation of vision
You can’t expect that people want the same things or want to achieve the same goals. Working on the same project or having specific goals does not mean that both parties hold a mutual vision or purpose. The vision needs to be clearly identified and both parties need to understand how each contributes to the achievement of the mutual goal.
10. Expectation of why
Just because your expectations are clear doesn’t mean that people will understand the reasons behind what you are asking them to do. You want to be clear about the why to increase motivation and expand another’s purpose.
11. Expectation of priorities
You can’t expect others to know your priorities nor can you expect to know another’s priorities if you haven’t clearly communicated. Knowing how frequently they change, it is important to revisit priorities frequently if you expect your efforts to contribute to the desired results.
12. Expectation of need
We often presume to know what others need based on our expectations and experiences. If we don’t communicate with them, we may not be supporting them in the areas they need to achieve our expectations. Failure to meet an individual’s needs in areas such as resources, support, education and development may limit their success.
13. Expectation of feedback
Whether you are a leader, manager or employee, you generally cannot expect people to give you unsolicited feedback. Often the higher up the organization you are, the more difficult it is for people to want to provide feedback. So if you want feedback, you need to ask for it. When you receive it, listen for factual specifics or examples, and if you don’t get any, then you need to ask. Feedback is often hard to come by, so when you receive it, be grateful and express appreciation, then look for actionable items that can help you improve.
These are some examples of the kinds of expectations that may limit our success. Taking the time to clearly identify your expectations, communicate them to others and check that you have been understood will improve your relationships and your ability to achieve the desired results.
Getting your first leadership role is exciting, isn’t it? There’s the office with your name on the door. Being invited to meetings once closed off and mysterious. Getting to make the big decisions. People asking for your advice.
Heady stuff that sends the wrong message to people who think being a leader is all about them.
Being a leader is a little bit about you, but mostly it’s all about others.
One of my first bosses told me that it would be impressive performance metrics and my contribution to the bottom line that would determine my success. It took a while before I understood that his advice about results was only partially right. Managing just to the numbers only gets you so far.
A few epic fails highlighted the reality that results don’t miraculously deliver themselves. They’re delivered by people. Treat people well, they deliver—and everyone succeeds. Treat people like crap and, well, results falter.
Listening with the eyes and the heart, not just the ears and the brain, requires a deeper level of paying attention and understanding. It requires we hear the heart and soul. ~Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge
My way of describing the inclusive reality Kouzes and Posner defined was leading with your heart and managing with your head.
Inclusive leaders know the value of balancing opposing goods, rather than labeling one right and the other wrong. Inclusive leaders deliver results and maintain relationships. They watch both the bottom line as well as employee satisfaction and engagement. They think about today and five years from now.
How do inclusive leaders pull off this balancing act?
They are curious.
One boss I had worked very hard to fulfill the unrealistic expectation that he had every answer. Two sentences into describing a problem to him, and he had the solution—without bothering to ask a single question. Other bosses of mine had the inclusive thing down pat. They were knowledgeable and knew where to go to find answers to what they didn’t know. They openly asked questions, invited debate, poked holes in the status quo, and encouraged those around them to do the same.
That know-it-all-boss-with-zero-curiosity didn’t realize it, but he was conveying to his team that they were without skills, knowledge, and the ability to figure things out for themselves. Inclusive leaders surround themselves with bright, inquisitive people and trust them to do their job.
At one company, my boss assigned me the project of improving customer service. When I asked for specifics, he told me that since I had to ask, I obviously wasn’t as smart as he had thought I was. Because he couldn’t or wouldn’t or both clarify his expectations, my finished project didn’t please him, and everyone lost.
Organizational development and management consultant Peter Drucker said, “The most important thing in communications is hearing what isn’t said.” Employees perceive reality through their own filters, values, and biases. Deeply, empathically, and actively listening to what employees say—and don’t say—enables inclusive leaders to expand their perspectives, thus entertaining diversity of thought, opinion, and experience.
Years ago, a woman told me her boss treated her no differently than the file cabinet in the corner—both utilitarian objects there to do a job. Isn’t that a sad story? Inclusive leaders keep both logic and emotion in their management toolkits. They know both are necessary for success, satisfaction, and engagement over the long-term.
Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. ~Hermann Hesse, poet and novelist
If asked, would those around you describe you as being curious, someone they trusted, a thorough explainer, a good listener, and a leader who cares about them as a person? Would they say you’re inclusive and can balance opposing goods? Ready to find out?
When I am alone I sit and dream
And when I dream the words are missing
Yes I know that in a room so full of light
That all the light is missing
But I don’t see you with me, with me
Close up the windows, bring the sun to my room
Through the door you’ve opened
Close inside of me the light you see
that you met in the darkness
Time to say goodbye
Horizons are never far
Would I have to find them alone
without true light of my own with you
I will go on ships over seas
that I now know
No, they don’t exist anymore
It’s time to say goodbye
When you were so far away
I sit alone and dream of the horizon
Then I know that you are here with me, with me
Building bridges over land and sea
Shine a blinding light for you and me
To see, for us to be
Time to say goodbye
Horizons are never far
Would I have to find them alone
without true light of my own with you
I will go on ships over seas
that I now know
No, they don’t exist anymore
It’s time to say goodbye
so with you I will go
on ships over seas
that I now know
No, they don’t exist anymore
It’s time to say goodbye
Mihran Kalaydjian ” Mino” young artist has style, smarts and technique. He created a stillness around himself that was so long and imposing in its defiance of expectations that your ear had to be glued to everything that came after.
The song ” Tango” is a duet with Jesse Cook, on May 1 Concert in Chicago.
A classical” performance with smooth, round, and fluid tone quality creating the most graceful pianissimos.
Musical Strength…commanding manner…grandeur and power