Expecting Conflict

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in Communication, Conflict Theory, Expectations | Comments Off on Expecting Conflict

Expectations are so intertwined with conflict that it deserves another blog – probably deserves many blogs

An interesting challenge with expectations is that they are rarely discussed. We expect people to be on time, understand the situation, stay calm, have a back-up plan, finish their part, know that a subject bothers us – and the list goes on and on and on. We expected something different than what developed.

Each conflict contains some expectation. Someone forgot a birthday, did not finish a project, interrupted me, fell behind on a payment, did not call, or missed a meeting. On a larger scale, the courts are overrun with cases because someone broke a law, which is an expectation of society.

Are expectations, then, bad? It depends. Where they discussed and agreed upon? An expectation may be the only relationship between two people. If I ordered coffee and paid for the coffee, I expect the coffee. If my car is broken and I paid for it to be fixed, I expect it to be fixed. When I pay to have my car fixed and it is not, that is when the conflict begins. I can negotiate, withhold payment, advertise that I did not get what I wanted, or even go to small claims court.

When I have an expectation of others that are not discussed, agreed upon, or even acknowledged by the other, then I am in trouble. I have no control over any other person: only myself. I can choose good people to be in my life, but I can never choose what they will or will not do. I can, though, choose to do what I need to do in a response to their actions. That is freedom.