Do the people around you ever make you feel like you may be asking for too much? You don't feel like you're asking for anything out of the ordinary, but they always seem to fall short of your expectations.
The other day, I heard someone say that children should not come into the world with a job. More specifically, children should not bear the responsibility of
making their parents or caregivers feel happy, useful, successful, etc. Of course, having a baby brings out all kinds of feelings and emotions in their parents, but there is a difference between a child making someone feel an emotion and a child being responsible for making someone feel an emotion. Having expectations of a baby is a lose-lose situation. Babies are not mind readers and cannot comprehend what is being asked of them. Anyone who imposes responsibilities on a baby is setting themselves up for disappointment because the child is not capable of meeting their expectations AND setting the child up for failure by asking them to do the impossible.
I said all of that to say that sometimes our expectations are much greater than what the other person is capable of. Other times, our expectations are clear in our minds, but we haven't communicated them very clearly--or at all. Imagine how many people are involved in relationships with people who are facing impossible expectations. Do the people involved even have a clue what their responsibilities are? Do they know what they expect of the other person?
Let's think about relationships in the context of employment. Suppose you were offered a new job, but weren't given a job description and had no discussion with your employer about what your job duties would be. For a week, you show up everyday (on-time), smile and speak to your co-workers, answer the phone, return e-mails, help customers, etc. You think you did a pretty good job and go home on Friday feeling pretty pleased with yourself. When you arrive on Monday, your boss asks to see you in his/her office. They proceed to tell you that you're not working out. That you're not meeting the company's expectations. What are you feeling in that moment? Confusion? Frustration? Ineffective? Unsuccessful? All of these are to be expected when you're in a situation where there are unspoken expectations. Maybe the expectations weren't unspoken, necessarily. Maybe they were implied or hidden in the fine print.
So, what types of relationships are at risk of falling victim to the fine print, you ask? This would include ANY relationship that you are involved in without having discussed and agreed on what you and the other party expect of one another. Friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, siblings, babysitter, housekeeper...I could go on forever! The point is, all too often, we hit bumpy situations in our relationships because he have an expectation of the other person that they weren't aware of. Sometimes, we don't even know what we expect...until we realize we don't like what just happened. Think about the last few times you were disappointed by someone. Did they disappoint you by doing or saying something that the two of you had agreed on or were you disappointed because they didn't do or say what you wanted? If the latter is your answer, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that a lack of communication may be to blame for some of the bumps you're running into. But the good news is that all hope is not lost!
So what can you do about it?
1. Figure out what your needs are of the relationship in question. Keep this task simple by making a list. 'What I need in a friend/partner/parent/sibling is..."
2. Share your needs with the other person. I know it may feel silly to both you and the other person if you are not used to communicating in this way, but remember that you have to do something different to get something different.
3. Come to an agreement. It is not enough to TELL the other person what you want them to do. The two of you have to come to an agreement. If you find that you cannot come to an agreement on things that are important to either of you, then your conversation may need to also include how healthy and/or beneficial the relationship is to everyone involved.
4. Repeat steps 1-3. This is not a one-time deal. Maintaining clear communication, in any relationship, is the job that never ends.
I know that these things may seem elementary and tedious, but you will get out of relationships what you put into them.
Good Luck and Happy Communicating!