1. Expectations are reasonable based on the situation and the relationship.
What does this mean? Every situation is unique as is every relationship. Your role and your expectation changes throughout the day as you flow in and out of each moment and each encounter. Not only do your expectations change, but also what is expected of you changes. This is very normal and should be EXPECTED 🙂
The problem often lies when the situations and roles are not honestly named or defined. I say “honestly” because there are times when they are defined, but only one party’s words are congruent with their actions. On the other hand, the second party may not yet have the courage to speak or be aware of their truth. They simply agree without being capable of following through. This may all be done unconsciously and not intentionally, but it doesn’t lessen the hurt. If, however, ambiguity exists because the roles are not defined, stories will be created and then projected unto the other that causes conflict and possibly pain.
My suggestion is to make sure all parties know their roles in the various situations. This is no different than playing a part in a play or defining what ingredients are needed to make a cake. The first thing you must do is figure out the right roles and ingredients. So take time to examine your role and your partner’s role. Are the roles the right ones for what you are trying to build? Do both of you know the roles you have assigned to each other? Take time to reflect on this. You may be surprised.
2. Once the roles are assigned and you have the right ingredients, it is important to clearly communicate what’s expected and concerns are voiced, heard and addressed.
Communication is key. How many times have you heard this? How many times has the lack of doing this caused issues? Communication is what connects people. Through words, strangers are transformed into friends, relationships are strengthened, hurts are forgiven, and echoes of love are heard. I’ve just shared the positive aspect of words. I’m sure you know that they also have a negative, destructive force that can break and shatter any relationship. The good news is that you have a choice to communicate life-giving words or words that drain the life out of you and your partner.
Now have you ever wondered when communication really takes place? You may think that it occurs when you have shared your point of view. That’s great, but this is not communication in a any relationship. This is just sharing. True communication is dependent on the receiver understanding the message and having the opportunity to enter into dialogue. This gives the receiver space to voice their concerns that confirms your message was received and interpreted correctly. If not, you have a chance to clarify. If they did, you both can address any issues that need to be resolve so there is a flow between both of you in the relationship. This steps helps to know and understand the storyline in the play or help make the cake with the ingredients you defined in step one.
3. We need to make sure the expectations are mutually understood and agreed upon by all parties.
You see, even if the roles are assigned and everyone has a chance to communicate and enter into honest dialogue by voicing all their issues that lead to resolution, mutuality and agreement may not necessarily follow. You may realize you’re in the wrong play or making the wrong cake that neither party really likes. Yes, this step helps reduce the level of failure and increase the level of success in your expectation of the other and vice versa. This step is difficult to get to. It requires work, patience, trust in the process, commitment, forgiveness, respect for diversity of thought and a lot of grace.
The key to step three is humility. It is knowing what you need, but always looking beyond yourself to include the other without excluding yourself. You can do this by placing yourself in the other person’s shoes and see through their eyes what their needs and wants are in the relationship. After really understanding where they are coming from, go back to your role, taking the wisdom from switching roles, and you will see a new way of approaching the situation that leads to mutual understanding and agreement.