A powerful conversation about expectations can open communication and trust.
We have been writing financial and practice management articles for Ophthalmology Times since 2000. Our family company, Grande Financial Services Inc., was founded more than 30 years ago with our mission being “Empowering People to Realize their Dreams.” This month, I am sharing with you an astounding discovery that has altered my life from following the coaching of Mission Realization Coach Randy McNamara. I asked him to write up the principles he taught me, which are listed below, and I will share the impact of implementing his advice with clients, my staff, and my wife.
Have you or someone else ever said things like the following while being annoyed, irritated or upset?
“I texted you yesterday. I would have expected you to respond by now.”
“I sent you an email last week. Why did it take you so long to reply?”
“Stop tailgating, you’re making me nervous!” (Often said by a spouse.)
Or, have you ever overheard a staff member interacting in a less-than-professional manner with a patient. Or, did a support employee not carry out your instructions in a timely way?
What if there was a way to vastly reduce or even eliminate annoying your patients, customers, co-workers, your wife, your husband, or your life partner?
I discovered a super highway to workability in a paper on integrity, co-written by Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Michael Jensen and his co-author Werner Erhard, which said, “Other people’s expectations of you are your agreement whether you like it or not.”
Think about it.
When someone doesn’t do what you expect them to do you get annoyed, irritated, or upset as if they broke a promise they made to you — even though they never said a word. The same thing happens for other people when you don’t meet their expectations, although most people try their best to hold back fully expressing how they feel.
You can create entirely new levels of workability with people if you find out what they expect and either promise to meet that expectation or tell them that you will not.
Expectations come in 2 forms: Always and never.
Interview the person and ask them 2 questions:
Write down their answers and tell them the expectations you promise to meet and which ones you decline to meet.
Because you are human you need to add one promise: “If I ever slip up, remind me and I won’t defend myself, I’ll just correct my mistake immediately,” and, you always have the right to decline a request.
Ah, but you say, words are cheap. Words are not cheap. People cheapen their words by not honoring what they say. So, you will need to take out your list of promises every so often and review them to make sure you stay alert to keeping your word.
You can initiate this workability project on your own without even speaking to the other person by going on what I call a “treasure hunt.”All it takes is noticing every time the other person gets irritated, annoyed or upset with you and discovering what you did or didn’t do that they expected. Keep a list and make a private promise to yourself to meet the expectation and then actually meet it. The rewards in reducing the other person being upset with you are like gold which is why I call it a “treasure hunt.”
This has enormous potential for your practice.
Imagine establishing the physician-patient relationship by telling a new patient what they can expect you to always do and what they can expect you to never do. Or, telling your current patients what you strive to always do and what you strive to never do and asking them if they have any expectations that you haven’t yet met.
This powerful conversation about expectations opened a highway of communication and trust in both my personal and professional life that I never dreamed was possible.
As an added bonus, this works especially well with children of all ages. It sets up parameters and opens a door for honest, meaningful communication.