Clarify Expectations

Early in my marriage I did not call Stephanie about coming home late from work. She assumed the worse and had a search party looking for me. She expected me to call and I did not. You can eliminate 25-50% of your relationship problems by learning how to clarify expectations.
What clarifying expectations do is eliminate confusion, pain and disappointment in relationships. We are entering the holiday season and there are a lot of unexpressed expectations in families – travel, family, food, presents, and mental images of what the holiday season is supposed to be like.
Unmet expectations are like land mines. They are underneath the service ready to explode. It separates families, friends, workgroups, neighbors, nations, etc.
Many expectations are:
 Unconscious – We have expectations of others that we don’t even know we have until the go unmet.
 Unrealistic – They are unreasonable. You expect to have a great holiday experience with your family but it has never happened before.
 Unspoken – You are conscious of them and they may be realistic, but they are not spoken.
o My sister not going by to see our grandmother.
 Un-agreed upon – we have expectations of others that they did not agree upon and they have expectations of you that you did not agree upon.
o Stephanie expecting me to take out the dog.
What makes expectations valid:
 Conscious – I am aware of my expectations.
 Realistic – I believe there is evidence to support that the person can, or will, do it.
 Spoken – I have expressed the expectation clearly.
 Agreed Upon – The other person agreed.
Key Principle: An expectation is only valid when it is agreed upon.
The exceptions to this principle are between a parent and a child (chores), marriage vows of faithfulness, employee/employer and military.
1. Think of a recent expectation you had that went unmet and made you angry, disappointed or confused. For example: someone didn’t return a text or email; a close friend didn’t send you a birthday card; your roommate did not take out the garbage.
2. Use the following checklist to clarify in your own mind:
a. Conscious – Were you aware that you had this expectation?
b. Realistic – Is this expectation reasonable? Why or why not? What is the specific evidence that this person can, or will, do this?
c. Spoken – Have you clearly spoken the expectation, or do you just think the other person should know?
d. Agreed upon – Has the other person agreed to the expectations?
3. Practice clarifying your expectations and see if it is agreed upon. Here are possible sentence
stems to help you begin:
a. I’d like to clarify an expectation I have of you…Is this correct?
b. I expect…because…Can we agree to that?
c. I wonder…Are you willing?
d. I’d like to check out an assumption I’ve made…Is this true?
This material comes from the Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 Workbook by Pete & Geri Scazzero.