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Don’t be the crazy person: Getting your expectations met

The best way to get what you want is to ask for it — calmly

In this month’s edition of Leadership eNews, we have two powerful articles by Anne Grady and Teri Hill. If you blew past them or read and dismissed them, do yourself a favor and check them out again.

Discuss expectations

Obviously, Anne’s article is about much more than just toilet paper. Every one of us has expectations.

In my first days as director of the Moscow office of a global corporate investigation firm, one of the Russian staff members came into my office and said, “We’re all very happy that you’re here as a buffer between us and the London regional office. We don’t want that responsibility. We only want to know what’s expected of us.” That was a highly reasonable request, stated succinctly, and reminded me of the needs all of us have to have expectations met.

You have expectations of your spouse, your kids, your boss, those who report to you and a lot of other people. You want them all to live up to those expectations. Have you stated them clearly? Do the people on the receiving end think you stated them clearly? There’s only one way to find out: Ask.

Seriously, ask them if they understand what your expectations are. And then ask them if you’ve been living up to theirs. You might be surprised.

Fight fair

Teri Hill’s article on constructive conflict is a perfect segue from Anne’s. And, no, it wasn’t planned.

Look at Teri’s 3-step approach again:

1. Establish a clear, inspiring goal for the discussion.

2. Choose to suspend defensiveness, excuses, finger pointing, blaming, and avoidance.

3. Value or make room for the active collection of ideas and opinions. In other words, make sure everyone’s expectations are known.

What are your expectations when communicating with other people? How do you conduct yourself? Do you expect to be beaten over the head with their words? When things take a turn for the ugly, and healthy conflict goes out the window, what do you do?

I had a friend named John who liked to yell, “Conflict is good!” when he was pissed off, and then he’d proceed to bully the people in his line of fire. He had a need to be heard, and this was the way he thought he could do it.

What do you do when someone starts escalating in your face? Most of us escalate right along with them. And that’s what happened with me and John. He would yell. I would yell back. A screaming match ensued.

Afterward, I would be like so many other people and say something like, “He made me so mad!” “I’m so pissed off because he ruined my day,” “I hate arguing all the time with him but he always pushes my buttons,” or “I hate that son of a bitch.”

I came to realize eventually that John had nothing to do with ruining my mood. John didn’t tell me to yell. He didn’t force me to stand up and get in his face. He had absolutely no power over me. I chose that for myself. I was the only one who could.

Once I figured that out, whenever John would escalate, I would stay seated. The more he yelled, the less I said. When John’s voice got louder and his rant picked up speed, I just stopped speaking.

You know what two people yelling at each other looks like? An argument.

You know what one person yelling looks like? A crazy person.

I made the choice to let the other person take the crazy route.

Points to ponder

Think about Anne Grady and Teri Hill’s articles. What choices are you making in the workplace and at home? What are your expectations for yourself? Are you getting what you want out of life?

How much are you blaming people around you? How toxic or bullying is your communication style? Does it prevent you from getting your expectations met?

Dr. Joe Serio is a popular and sought-after criminal justice speaker and trainer. He is currently delivering a series of classes on time management, emotional intelligence, leadership, customer service, and other topics at the Harris County (Houston) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. Dr. Serio is a featured speaker at SHIELD, Sheriff Institute for Ethical Leadership Development, at the Travis County (Austin) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. He also speaks at adult and juvenile probation departments as well as police departments.