3 Practical Rules for Managing Expectations

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Managing expectations is a massively underused skill, in the work, business and our personal relationships. Many of us just assume that others understand and agree with our aims and objectives, so we don’t take measures to assess whether or not this is indeed the case. This can be risky as quite often, those around us may be operating from a different agenda, or may simply understand problems and how best to approach them in ways that are not in line with our own. If more of us learned to practice the skill of managing expectations, we could escape a lot of the everyday drama that goes on in our workplaces and homes.

Individuals who are proficient at managing expectations can more smoothly navigate the changeable and challenging world of their business. Why? Because they know how to communicate, organize, and direct conversations around things getting done.

Follow these three practical tips to improve your own ability to manage expectations…

Make No Assumptions


Don’t fall into the trap of assuming someone has the same understanding of a situation, project, deadline, or task that you do. Many of us have run into trouble when we assumed that a co-worker or manager understood what we expected or what we are talking about. This pitfall can be avoided by having a conversation in which what’s expected, how goals should be reached, and how success will be measured is frankly discussed. When doing this remember to leave plenty of room for questions. This is also the time to decide and commit to what will be delivered, and importantly, when.




One of the best ways to manage expectations is to communicate with all parties on a regular basis. In the early days of a new project or as a deadline approaches, it might even be a good idea to over-communicate. This can be especially critical when working with a new team or under new leadership. While this might be a lot of work, it can circumvent plenty of problems which can crop up in the future.

Keeping updates throughout the course of a project, allows you to promptly manage any delays, or issues. When your communication is honest and open, you have the flexibility your course of action as you near a deadline. Honesty about a delay is infinitely better than agreeing to deliver and then missing your target.


Pushing Back when Necessary


You need to be comfortable that expectations and deadlines are realistic and attainable. If they’re not, you should negotiate. The key here is pushing back in ways that matches up the business’s needs and the team’s capabilities. Realism about what can be delivered and how can greatly encourage confidence and getting the go-ahead.

The Positivity Ireland TeamRead all author posts