Failed to meet an unspoken expectation

Written by on Mar 6 2012

Relationships can be easily damaged by miscommunication. One type of miscommunication happens when one person’s expectations for another aren't clearly expressed, resulting in confusion, frustration and often hurt feeling.

This can happen at work, with your spouse, between you and your business partner and even between parents and their kids. We all have expectations for each other, but when someone falls short of those expectations (whether they were correctly expressed or not), you have the choice to respond in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Suppress your disappointment. This will result in the other person never knowing that they didn’t deliver on, thus they will continue to fall short. Eventually you’ll boil over with disappointment, and the relationship will suffer.
  2. Be passive aggressive and hint around at what they did “wrong”. The only way this “works” is to eventually beat the other person into submission with your passive aggression. This usually isn’t the way to build a healthy long term relationship. (This is what I do to Steve.)
  3. Clearly express your expectations of them. Next time they can hopefully deliver what you expect. How you communicate your expectations can often be tricky, but this is the best option.

Inherently, humans want to make others happy. For the most part, how clearly you can communicate your expectations will reflect how well and how often others deliver on these expectations. If they fail to deliver even when your communication is great, keep trying. Some people just need time.


Hi I'm Allan,

I wrote the article you're reading... I'm one of the co-founders of LessEverything. I love my family more than breathing and I love creating videos about our family adventures.

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