Matching Expectations and Responses Minimizes Rejection

Learn From Rejection: Find the Why Behind the No

Matching an expectation to the desired response involves a progression of events that unfold in stages over time. It is important to realize that situations, behaviors, and feelings will always influence the response either negatively or positively.

Think about a time when your expectations were not met. Say, for example, you signed up for a training seminar—What were your expectations? If they were met, you were satisfied with the response and pleased with yourself for making a good choice. If not, you probably experience what psychologists call an “ego bruise” wherein you berate yourself with “shoulds” such as, “I should have known better. I “should” not have wasted the money.”

Those “should” messages keep coming until you realize the unmet expectation is not your fault. The “should” shifts to where it belongs: with the seminar producers. They should have been better prepared. They should refund your money. They should….

Most likely you will keep your feelings to yourself, so the seminar sponsors will never get a chance to offer you a better response and perhaps change your negative feelings. Similarly, if your unmet expectations and those of your coworkers are not addressed in a pro-active manner, they are liable to disassociate themselves from you and you from them.

Putting the expectation model into practice within your work group empowers those charged with the completion of the stated goals and objectives to express and discuss their feelings about the unmet expectations without discomfort or disrespect.

Knowing how each stage unfolds can help you to better understand, and if necessary, to change the expectation or alter the response, or both.

Expectation. The objective is to declare your intentions in terms of what you are willing and able to provide or accomplish within the stated time frame. If you need to involve other people in the process, use the same terms to explain your expectations.

Situation. Something unexpected arises that could jeopardize your expectation or lead to an unsatisfactory response. The options at this point are to accept the conditions or reassess your expectations and start again.

Behavior. Expectations are based on self-interest—what is in it for me. This means that your coworkers expect you to know what they prefer and to provide it without them having to express it. If the resulting response matches their expectations, they will be supportive and behave positively. If it doesn’t, they become antagonistic and complain that you should have tried harder; meaning the unintended consequence was your fault, not theirs.

Feelings. When an expectation is met with an appropriate response, those involved feel good about themselves and are encouraged by what they have accomplished. Conversely, an unmet expectation or inappropriate response leaves people feeling disappointed and discouraged. The sense of belonging and collaboration is replaced by feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction that drive people apart rather than pull them together.

Response. The primary goal is to match responses to expectations. The secondary goal is to respond to those situations where unmet expectations exist. The final goal is to either rectify unmet expectations or persuade the recipient(s) to accept an alternative response.

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