ERG: Step 4 – Communicate Expectations
In our journey through the Expectation Reality Gap (ERG) series, we’ve arrived at a crucial stage: Communicating Expectations. This step is fundamental because unvoiced or unclear expectations are often at the heart of frustration and misunderstanding in both personal and professional settings.
When we don’t communicate our expectations clearly, we leave room for misinterpretation and disappointment. This can lead to conflict, resentment, and even sabotage. On the other hand, when we take the time to clearly communicate our expectations, we can set ourselves up for success and avoid unnecessary pain.
The Need for Clear Communication
When expectations are not communicated, people are left to guess or assume what is expected of them, leading to a gap between what is anticipated and what actually occurs. This gap can result in disappointment, frustration, and even conflict. Remember to be specific. Vague expectations are more likely to be misunderstood. For example, instead of saying “I need you to do a good job,” say “I need you to complete the project on time and within budget.”
Ephesians 4:25 instructs us, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” This verse highlights the importance of honesty and clarity in our interactions, reminding us that clear communication strengthens the collective body, whether that be a family, a community, or a workplace.
A Practical Example: The Unprepared Meeting
Imagine you are expected to attend a meeting with the assumption that you’ll contribute brainstorming ideas. However, no one informed you about the meeting’s specific purpose or your expected role in it. You arrive, only to realize everyone else is prepared with ideas, while you are not. This scenario leads to frustration for everyone involved: you feel unprepared and possibly embarrassed, while others might feel let down by your lack of preparation.
The root of this issue? A lack of clear communication regarding expectations.
Addressing Communication Gaps
Express Expectations Clearly: Whether you’re a leader in a meeting or a partner in a relationship, it’s vital to express what you expect from others clearly and explicitly. This eliminates guesswork and ensures everyone is on the same page.
Seek Confirmation: After communicating your expectations, ask for confirmation to ensure understanding. This can be as simple as asking, “Does that make sense?” or “Do you need any clarification?”
Invite Feedback: Encourage others to express their thoughts or concerns. This two-way communication ensures that expectations are realistic and agreed upon.
Provide Context: Sometimes, providing the ‘why’ behind your expectations can foster better understanding and cooperation. When people understand the reasons behind a request, they are more likely to engage with it positively.
Be Open to Adjustment: Be prepared to adjust your expectations based on the feedback you receive. This flexibility can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.
Effective communication of expectations is essential to bridging the ERG. It’s about creating a shared understanding that guides actions and decisions. This step is not just about speaking up; it’s about engaging in a dialogue that respects and values the contributions of all involved. By taking the time to clearly communicate what you expect, you can avoid ERGs and build stronger, more productive relationships.
In the next step of our ERG series, we will explore ensuring mutual understanding, which builds on the foundation of clear communication to further close the gap between expectation and reality.
For the other articles in the ERG Blog Series Click Here.