Our expectations influence our preferences and our reality.

Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, shared an experiment he did on how our expectations influence our preferences and our reality. Here is the clip Expectations, preferences and reality.

This experiment really got me thinking and wanting to share my thoughts, and even more importantly… wanting to hear yours? If what we expect truly influences our reality, then the question we should ask ourselves is how often are we coming to an outcome BEFORE experiencing the actual reality and doing everything in our power, whether consciously or sub-consciously, in order to ensure the outcome meets our expectations?

 

Leaders in an organisation

To further illustrate this idea, let us consider leaders in an organisation. The expectation is that when the team arrives at work (virtually or physically) they are ready to work, meet deliverables and targets and get stuck into ticking off the long list of tasks. This is a realistic expectation and one which can be met most of the time. However, the reality also includes days and moments that people are at work but are not quite ready to work just yet! Maybe they dropped off their child at school who had just had a tantrum and this episode unnerved them and made them feel anxious? Perhaps the dog did its business on their favourite rug just before they rushed out the door? Or it might not be negative, a person might be so excited about some wonderful news that they just received before stepping into the office? These very people are able to work but they can’t jump into work mode straight away.

So it is these individuals that will not meet the leaders’ expectations on the onset and this could lead to a dispute, a misunderstanding, and/or an employee who is perceived as not wanting to work due to the reality being different to the leader’s expected outcome. Of course, we see here that this is just not true.

 

Common language

What if we could give everyone a common language to speak? A language in connection which everyone understands and in which we can start to verbalise what the expectations are of the business, of the leaders or of the team members in each engagement? What if, through this language of connection, we can express that we are not ready to work just yet, that we need a moment to unpack what has happened in our world and for this not to be misunderstood?

This language of connection is one we at Circle & Square are able to both teach and speak and one which we have seen so many organisations and teams utilising in a healthy way. The beauty of this language is that it influences all aspects of our lives and we can even use it at home with our most important people. The power of this language is that it shifts our focus from wanting to meet our expectations to rather meeting the needs of the individual in a particular situation. It is in this way that we can create relationships and start to listen to other’s needs and not be so focused on meeting only our own.

Michal Zinman

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