When preparing for a difficult conversation, it’s normal to build expectations. But you should remember to set only reachable expectations. According to Travis Bradberry in his article, 8 Unrealistic Expectations That Will Ruin You, “Your expectations shape your reality. They can change your life, emotionally and physically. You need to be extra careful about (and be aware of) the expectations you harbour as the wrong ones make life unnecessarily difficult. Be especially wary of the expectations that follow – they give people all kinds of trouble.”
Our expectations help guide our decisions. It affects what we say and how we react to a given situation, especially when having an important discussion or when communicating to colleagues. To help ensure that your difficult conversation is a success, here are some realistic expectations that you should keep in mind.
- Life is not fair
Things don’t always go your way. Conversations don’t always end up with both parties satisfied. If you want to arrive at a compromise, you must work for it. Plan your actions in advance to ensure that what you say and how you act in a conversation will influence people to negotiate and work with you.
- Not everyone likes you
Remember the saying, “You can’t win them all.” People don’t need a good reason to dislike you. Stop wasting your time wondering if the person you are about to talk to likes you or not. Focus your energy in thinking of ways to earn his trust and respect. Listen to what he says and look at his actions to really understand what he is thinking and feeling. This will help you create a win-win situation for the both of you.
- Not everyone will agree with you
Other people do not think and act the same way you do. Instead of pondering why people don’t see your point and don’t agree with you, work on finding a solution that satisfies all parties involved.
- You cannot change other people
People have their own mind and make their own decisions. And you cannot change the way they think and act. What you can do is listen to their needs and demands and work around these in order to arrive at a solution that works for all.
Conversations don’t always have to be difficult. There are things that you can do to steer the discussion towards the right direction. There are expectations that you can manage and understand to avoid confrontations and ensure your conversation will end up successfully. Manage your expectations.
If you would like to learn to better handle difficult conversations and the associated expectations, Violet’s next workshop on Difficult Conversations is on 17 November.