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What Resonated This Week: Expectations vs. Observations

June 23, 2016

This is the thirteenth installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion.

Over the last year, I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience. After that, I wrote about finding the courage to ask for help and the power of "Coffee Talk" and connecting in person. Recent posts were on the hidden benefits of road trips, notes written on Post-its®, and customer service. I then wrote about bananas, nuts, and stories that suck as well as triggers. A few months ago I thanked and introduced my BFAM (brother from another mother) and LinkedIn Family, those special folks here we've never met but with whom we feel a certain kinship and ease. Most recently I wrote about timing, and the lessons learned from TV Powww and why it's important to keep it simple.

 

This week it's about expectations vs. observations.

 

If you read my last post on my SBP Method of follow-up, you'll recall that our 16-year-old daughter was on a quest to land a summer job. "Quest" may be too strong a word, however, as from her parents' point of view it appeared to be more of a "leisurely stroll."

 

I'm a firm believer in what you see is what you get. But sometimes what you see translates directly to what you aren't getting: results.

 

This can be frustrating, especially when you can't seem to fathom why things aren't going your way or working out the way you had expected.

 

Our interactions with our daughter over her job hunt reminded me of a similar situation that happened years ago with a staff member. Somehow she just wasn't "getting it."

 

I sought counsel from a seasoned industry colleague, who explained that he, too, had encountered this very situation. In his experience, he said, the best way to address the issue was to have a conversation, started with this simple phrase:

 

"My expectation is _______, but my observation is ______." 

 

Communication is Key

 

Those words have stuck with me to this day.

 

They represent a simple way to get to the heart of the matter: that the disconnect between expectation and observation almost always stems from a breakdown in communication.

 

Are you guilty of assuming everyone thinks the same way you do? When you have a tight-knit team (or family) it's easy to fall into that trap. As much as you'd like to think you've expressed your expectations, it's best to state them, in simple terms, so that everyone starts — and stays — on the same page.

 

This can happen in a client/vendor relationship, too — on both sides. If you're the client, you've been living and breathing your project for what seems like forever. Perhaps it's been around so long that its goals have morphed over time, through numerous discussions, and changed into something different from the original brief.

 

And those of you that partner with and service clients know that sometimes projects drift away from your first proposal and scope of work. You can get so wrapped up in the job that you forget where you started.

 

Shifts happen. Things change. And that's okay. Just be sure to speak up and ask for clarification on goals, objectives, and expectations. Trust me, you'll save yourselves from unnecessary headaches later.

 

The Case for Preemptive Communication

 

I mentioned that my husband and I were upset with our daughter's seemingly lack of drive to get a summer job. To us, there was no sense of urgency. Worse, we had to constantly nag her about what she had done to achieve her goal of getting a job.

 

But that's the mistake we made. Assuming she thought just like us.

 

I suggested we have the expectations vs. observation chat and guess what? She told us she actually had been working really hard to get a job and had done numerous outreach and follow-up activities. She told us that we weren't clear with her on our expectation of constant information and that she only knew one goal: we wanted her to get a job.

 

And following our discussion, that goal was achieved.

 

Our 16-year-old daughter was just hired as a hostess/cashier at a local Italian restaurant. Something tells me that her experience will provide fodder for a future post...or two.

 

© Amy Blaschka and www.rbpconsulting.org, 2016

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So, what resonated with you this week? Have your expectations ever been out of whack with your observations? How did you remedy that? Please share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

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