Imbalance of Expectations

imbalanceThis is a particular frustration of mine – when the other party in the dynamic has higher expectations for your behavior/actions than for their own.  I imagine that if I could poll a large portion of the population, once I defined my meaning each person would be able to provide endless examples of this phenomenon.

I first became aware of this imbalance years ago when my children were in an after school program.  Their attendance was necessitated by my full time employment.  The program that they attended was the only game in town – held at their school, run by the local YMCA.  The program had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy about behavior.  (Oh, someday I might write a post about the ridiculousness of this philosophy.)

I came to pick up my son one day to find out that he had been suspended from the program for slamming a chair to the floor.  I was taken aback but didn’t have enough facts to address the issue right there.  Once we got home my son told me that the other kids just kept picking at him about something.  I asked where the nearest adult had been and what was she doing?

The program had a mission statement that covered expected behavior on the part of the children, but no corresponding expected behaviors on the part of the program or the adults running the program or for that matter any clear cut policies for caretaker actions.  I was livid and carefully crafted a letter that expressed my belief that this was therefore unjust.  In order for ‘zero tolerance’ to be in the slightest effective, then policies must be in place on the part of the caretakers to identify potential issues and diffuse them long before any unacceptable behavior could occur.  That is what I was paying for and expecting as a parent and captive between the program and state law.

I’m sure that I had been subject to an imbalance of expectations countless times before this incident.  But this was the moment that opened my eyes.  There are certainly times when you are fine with an imbalance of expectations because the result is worthwhile, or the situation doesn’t make you feel powerless.

What can we, indeed what should we do about this imbalance?  Our response is very much based on the situation and our own temperament.  When I choose to take action, I usually have the dual purpose of getting justice for myself and also to prompt the organization to make changes to their structure or procedures to alleviate the imbalance.

In order to get the organization’s positive attention, therefore, I do not go roaring in but rather apply logic.  I start out my address with a positive, for instance why I originally chose their product, service or what have you.  Then I sketch out my concern along with my proposed solution.  And then I end with a positive statement.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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