Remember when you would go up to your mom or dad when you were a kid, and you’d say something like, “My finger really hurts when I bend it this way!” You would be expecting some sympathy. Maybe a cookie. Instead, you’d hear, “Well, I guess you’d better not bend your finger that way then.”
This post – it’s going to be kind of like that.
Let’s turn your thinking inside out
A lot of bloggers in Social Media, including yours truly, talk about how to create and exceed expectations for yourself. There is a lot of talk about goals. There is a lot of talk about metrics and benchmarking.
There’s something I’ve noticed though, and maybe you’ve noticed it too. A lot of the problems that people bump into online are actually caused by expectations we have of other people, and their willingness (or not) to live up to those expectations. So let me ask you some questions. And let’s talk about it.
What do you expect your followers to do when you tweet out your own post? Do you expect that they will retweet your tweet? Do you expect that they will click the link and read your post? Do you expect them to read the post and comment on it? Do you expect them to do everything above?
What do you expect a person to do after you have tweeted out their blog post?
What do you expect a blogger to do if you comment on his or her post?
If you think about these questions, you probably have some sort of answer for them. I know I do. When you think about that a bit more, what we’re really saying is that we have a lot of expectations that we place on people. Often, these expectations are not verbalized. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have these expectations. But suddenly, when our expectations are not exceeded, or when we feel discouraged because people aren’t doing what we expect, we may act out, throw a fit, lash out, or otherwise lose our online cool. That’s not a good thing.
The bad news
OK, I’m a bad news kind of person, so let me lay some hard truths on you first.
1. People do not dwell inside your head. They do not saturate themselves in your thoughts and feelings.
2. People do not keep track of everything you say, blog, tweet, or write. A quick reference to something you said six years ago today may not register with some people.
3. People cannot know what you expect unless you tell them.
4. Even if they know what you want – people may not do it. People are silly that way.
The good news
Now here is the good news. We can get our expectations under control so that we don’t end up feeling like we’re running into a brick wall.
If you have expectations of people, you first need to come clean with yourself. If you expect people to comment on your blog posts, you need to admit that to yourself. If you expect a blogger to respond to your comment, you need to be honest with yourself and say so.
Then, you need to come to terms with those expectations and determine which ones are realistic and which ones will just lead you to disillusionment.
There are some common expectations that I see evidence of on a regular basis, and they almost always lead to frustration. So, if you carry these expectations with you, it may be time to rethink things a bit. There are a few expectations people carry that I think almost always lead to frustration or disappointment. For example:
Do you expect that irritating patterns of behavior will cease if you always draw attention to those that present that behavior?
Do you expect that people will continue to build you up if you never build up other people?
Do you expect that a blogger who receives 75 comments per post will always be able to answer you?
Do you expect that a request for a significant amount of time will always be met just as you wish?
It might be hard to admit that we carry these expectations. We might not be proud of them. But we need to identify them. And we need to address them.
So, what do you expect?
When you sign into Twitter, or when you write a blog post, do people walk in knowing what your expectations are? Do you know what your expectations are for each action that you send out? Are you paving the way to frustration for yourself and others, or are your expectations more aligned with your end-goal?
Let me know what you come up with in the comments.
And no, I don’t expect you to. I just am glad if you do.