November 13, 2017

The Root of Frustration

by Ricky Escobar

“I’m frustrated and angry, even.”

“It happened again. I was passed up for a promotion!”

“They ignored my great idea that would solve our problems!”

“They ignored my advice and now we have an unhappy client.”

Do any of these sound familiar? These are situations that strike a chord and really frustrate me. There are plenty more examples of workplace frustration I could name that I’m sure you’ve encountered. The common denominator with all these frustrating circumstances is the anger caused when things don’t go our way and our expectations are not met.


Expectations are messy. We somehow think others are aware of what we expect and others think the same of us. It’s as if our true expectation is for others to read our minds!


The good news is there are steps you can take to alleviate the frustration, making life easier for you and those with whom you work.


Step 1: Evaluate what you want for yourself and for others.
Define your expectations: know what you want done, as well as how and why you want it done. What are non-negotiables and in what areas can you be more flexible as you work toward your objective? It is imperative you understand what you want in order to communicate it clearly to others.


Step 2: Don’t assume expectations are known.
An expectation is not known until it is communicated either aloud or in writing to all stakeholders. It may be necessary to reiterate expectations again and again. We are all human and can easily veer off course. Repeat your expectations until they are fully known and being met on a consistent basis.


Step 3: Allow others to weigh in.
Feedback should never be avoided. It’s impossible for one person to be aware of everything; it’s important to be open to new information or ideas that could reinform your decisions or change your direction. Anytime an expectation involves stakeholders, allow them an opportunity to weigh in. Listening to their insights and concerns does not necessarily lead to changing expectations; however, it is important to show respect and allow every stakeholder the opportunity to have their voice heard. Remember, weighing in leads to buying in, even if there are disagreements.


Step 4: Seek understanding.
Just because you have communicated your expectations doesn’t mean others truly understand what you want. Ask questions and give others the opportunity to respond with their understanding. You might be surprised to hear what they think you said. Keep clarifying your expectation until their understanding of what you want matches yours; remember simplicity is your friend.


Step 5: Get a commitment.
Remember that others have a right to not commit to your expectation. This needs to be allowed! Committing to an expectation is like a contract, without it you have nothing but “he said/she said” and assumed expectations. However, with commitment, you have clarity and agreement on what you want and how best to achieve the result you seek. If someone does not want to commit to your expectation, ask why. Be open to listen. A slight adjustment may be all that’s needed to gain commitment.


Step 6: Encourage and celebrate met expectations.
People will lose sight of the goals every now and again. The best way to realign them with the expectation is to encourage them and celebrate them when they meet and possibly exceed it. Don’t wait on the sidelines for people to come up short, be there for them and help them achieve the expectation.


You may think you already follow all these steps; but if you are like me, you fall short in a few. It is difficult for me to allow others to weigh in and to encourage them when they fall short. Once I have expressed my expectation, I foolishly suppose it is made clear, known by all, and should be followed. I am learning there is a difference between communicating expectations and sharing my opinions. With this awareness, I am discovering my frustrations are misplaced. My frustration should not rest on others because they fail to do as I expect; rather, I should be aggravated with myself for not clearly laying out my expectations and getting true commitment.


Do you have expectations not being met by workmates? Are you frustrated because things are not going your way or people are not doing what you want?


Take this week to evaluate yourself; in which of these steps are you falling short? Determine what needs to happen in order for you to achieve your expectations and then do something about it! It is never too late to clearly communicate your expectations. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us at WinShape Teams, we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

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