So then we agree…

Photo courtesy of buddawiggi (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of buddawiggi (Creative Commons)

Have you ever gone into a situation thinking you knew what you needed to do, and then found out later there was much more involved?

Or gotten into an argument with someone because you discovered that you each had different ideas about what was to be accomplished in a project or situation?

In many cases, conflicts and hurt feelings can be avoided if the expectations are spelled out in the beginning. Whether it is a project, job, club or relationship, each person involved has certain ideas about what needs to be done, and it is crucial to make sure that everyone is in agreement.

We all know how dangerous it is to make assumptions, and what kinds of struggles ensue when we assume we understand rather than clarify that we understand.

Spell out and agree upon clear, simple statements of the responsibilities of each party early in the project or relationship. Sometimes it is also important to state what is not expected, just to avoid confusion.

I saw an example just yesterday in the group I Run 4, which pairs runners with those who cannot run. Runners are asked to post their workouts at least 3 times a week in honor of their buddies in the private Facebook group. We had a complaint from a parent that their runner wasn’t posting, and they wanted to be rematched. What we discovered when we delved into the situation was that the runner was hurt and thought they could only post when they run. So they were not posting, which meant the parent thought they had dropped out or didn’t want to run for their child anymore.

That was a simple situation to correct, but could have been avoided altogether if both parent and runner had thoroughly read and understood the guidelines, and had communicated better with each other. An explanation by the runner that they were hurt could have opened up a dialogue with the parent that would have prevented the elevation of emotions.

If you are a supervisor, review job expectations with your team members regularly so they understand what you are holding them accountable for.We all know that as time goes on, our minds become cluttered with other things, and details may be lost. The more critical the project, job or relationship, the more important it is to revisit those expectations periodically.

Think about the situations and relationships in your own life. Where are expectations a little fuzzy? Where do you need to clarify those expectations?