The Better Alternative to Expectations

The Better Alternative to Expectations

Isn’t it good to have appropriate expectations of others?  Otherwise how can you have an orderly family, company, or society?  Rather than expectations, the better way to think is in terms of Agreements. It is often appropriate and even necessary to make agreements between two or more people.  An agreement is an IF…THEN… scenario that both (or all) parties agree to. The main difference between an agreement and an expectation is that an agreement is made between all parties involved and is clearly communicated whereas an expectation is only one-sided and often not communicated at all- just held inside the mind of one side.


Some examples of appropriate agreements might be:

  • An agreement between employer and employee that IF the employee doesn’t show up on time or IF they break company policies or IF they steal from the company- THEN they will be fired. Likewise, IF the company doesn’t treat the employee with respect and doesn’t pay the agreed upon wage, THEN the employee can leave and seek employment elsewhere and demand payment by law for work already done. Simple cause and effect agreements.
  • An agreement between parents and children that IF the child makes his bed and cleans his room, THEN they can have dessert or allowance and IF NOT, THEN they don’t get it. Such agreements can be very helpful in teaching children to be responsible and that there are consequences attached to choices.
  • In business and transactions we make agreements all the time.  We have written contracts to buy ,sell or lease goods or buildings.  We have employment agreements and joint venture agreements and listing agreements.


Agreements don’t have to be written to work- although for complex interactions they should be.  But for day to day interactions with co-workers or family members, having a verbal agreement is much better for all parties involved than for people to walk around with a bunch of unspoken expectations of each other.


Questions to Ponder

  • Where in my personal life do I have expectations of others that would be better converted to agreements?
  • Where in my professional life do I have expectations of others that would be better converted to agreements?
  • What expectations do I have of myself that would be better converted to an agreement with myself?