The M of Living Imperfectly: Managing From The Rear #atozchallenge

Handling betrayal

M Challenge LetterWe are all a walking bunch of expectations. Some involve solely our own behaviour, but for most of us they involve the behaviour of others or the achievement of an outcome involving others. I have always thought that being able to manage the expectations of others is a key skill. It certainly is in the business world. It is why the business world is so hung up on finding “influencers” and why being able to “manage stakeholders” is just as important if not more so than possessing any technical skills for a particular role. Managing stakeholders and influencing involves an intricate dance across a tightrope walk, with sometimes unpredictable results.

Like any dance, it requires practice, repetition and energy. Expectations are generally like trip wire unless they are communicated. They invariably aren’t and you only know you’ve crossed the invisible line when the alarm sounds.

Which is why having to do the same dance in non-business life seems exhausting.

Isn’t the theory meant to be that you find a group of friends and a spouse where you can be you, a you who will sometimes inadvertently disappoint by not meeting unilateral expectations? And isn’t the consequence of not meeting this expectation meant to be a moment of annoyance (if that) a possible readjustment of activity and moving on and getting on the with the friendship/relationship?

I’m not talking here about major life decision expectations, but rather day-to-day behavioural expectations.

It’s the age old social dance.

Lately, I have been constantly feeling like I’m being managed from the rear. True leaders lead from the front and are not afraid to articulate their expectations and to motivate their team to each those expectations. This is managing from the front. By contrast, managing from the rear is never putting your expectations self out there, and manipulating others to fall in line with your expectations. The manipulation can come in several forms, including guilt, leverage or anger.

On one level, it is partly my fault by letting my people pleasing tendencies respond. On the other level though, people really need to learn to lead from the front and manage their own expectations.

Perhaps this is really what happens when two perfectionists with slightly different tendencies come together.

So I have come full circle on the need to manage others’ expectations. I think we all need to take hold of our own first and not require others to necessarily fall in line with our thinking unless this outcome has been expressly discussed.

Dealing with someone’s constant disappointment is exhausting and is as wrong as being constantly disappointed.

Lead me from the front and there is a chance I will follow. Because constantly looking in rear vision mirrors can distort the real image.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

7 thoughts on “The M of Living Imperfectly: Managing From The Rear #atozchallenge

  1. So true… finding this out in my job situation. A strained place with expectations being dashed by the minute, don’t know how it will end… I know I am exhausted and about to give up on being a people pleaser… Sounds horrible, don’t I?

  2. Judy, I love your comments about expectations being a trip wire. Great analogy. For some reason, I am reminded of the line from the movie “The Notebook.” At the climactic scene when you finally figure out who the younger woman chooses as her life partner (since she loves two men in varying degrees, the safe choice and the risky choice), she is lamenting about everyone telling her what to do, except the one she chooses. He yells at her “what do you want?” He is saying it is not important what I want, “what do you want?” Ricky Nelson sang in “Garden Party” about the same theme – “you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.” Great post. Now I will be humming Garden Party the rest of the day. BTG

  3. I think on the one hand, it’s vital that we articulate our expectations to (and of) others, or we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment, since nobody can read our minds. But at the same time, as a lifelong people-pleaser, I know that I often misinterpret other people’s expectations, which leaves me giving them what I think they want, without really knowing what they want. This can lead (and has led) to a lot of misunderstanding and grief. What I try to live by now is a realization that we have no control over other people’s unspoken expectations, so all we can really do is ask them what they want from us, take their words at face value, and do our best, when we can, to deliver it. (Great post, by the way.)

  4. Great post. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about managing from the front vs the rear. It actually makes sense of some things in my life over the years. Expectations are definitely a trap and I admit a tendency to having a ‘secret list’ then being disappointed and feeling let down.
    It took me long time to realize we are all responsible for our own happiness – even harder to follow on a day-to-day basis.

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