Craig Freshly from the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (USA) posted this on expectations.  What struck me particularly in this note was  “expectations are planned resentments”.

The Urban Dictionary‘s take on expectations is “a guaranteed way to make sure that people will consistently disappoint you”.  We hear people say “That didn’t go the way that I expected it would” or “That was disappointing”.

Expectations are funny things.  We all have them.  We bring them to our families, to our work, to society in general.  We are told, or we tell ourselves to raise them, lower them, manage them, be realistic with them. Expectations can be a way to ‘prevent’ disappointment or to motivate us.

As facilitators, we bring our own expectations into a group setting.  Participants do the same.  More often than not, they are unspoken.  I like the idea of naming these elephants in the room and then putting them aside.

Seth Godin talks about opening the door.

“Give people a platform, not a ceiling. Set expectations, not to manipulate but to encourage. And then get out of the way, helping when asked but not yelling from the back of the bus.”

Or is having no expectations the way to go?  Letting them go.  Seeing what happens.  Trusting that we won’t be disappointed.

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I like to ask participants about their hopes, concerns and expectations before a workshop.  Here’s a visual of one group’s responses. These can be the starting point for agreements on how the group will work together.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney

flip-chart-expectations

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