Expectations of others

Monday, February 1, 2021 Permalink

I’ve always thought I have very low expectations of others. That is to say, my cynical pessimistic distrusting personality means I set the bar very low. Or so I thought.

A few weeks ago I bookmarked an article on Tiny Buddha about how we often find ourselves disappointed in others because of our heightened expectations of them

It very much resonated. Which was weird as—like I said—I tend to think I expect little.

While I was down the rabbit hole I read this second piece, on how those expectations can drive others away

And I realised there’s a difference between expecting things OF others and expecting things FROM others. 

I’m exceedingly independent and terrible at asking for help. I inherited my father’s cynicism about people in general so tend not to expect much FROM others. 

expectations of others

Speaking of being judgemental… a random picture of a cat! Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I do however expect more OF others. So I often find myself disappointed in people for the way they act or think. It’s often nothing at all to do with me. It’s me on the outside looking in. It’s me expecting things OF organisations or people and dying a little inside when they don’t deliver. Or worse still, becoming frustrated and angry. And often I don’t hide it. I can’t hide it. 

The second article I mention talks about pushing people away because of our response to things they say and do. I realise no one likes feeling judged and/or judged poorly. Of course I’m self-aware enough to know I’m projecting my own expectations (behaviour-wise) onto others and I’m trying to work on those (personal) perfectionist tendencies. 

But I really need to get better at recognising when I’m imposing my values, ethics or beliefs onto others and that – in fact – they’re entitled to have their own and all I can control is my response. 

I suspect I’m not alone in this, finding myself disappointed with someone or something because my own expectations aren’t met? 

26 Comments
  • Jo
    February 1, 2021

    Can I just say yes? But also no… I’m sort of the opposite in that I expect too much, or rather think the best & I’m super trusting – overly so. Thank goodness I don’t have to put that one on my dating profile!

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      I tend to assume it’s good being cynical or pessimistic in general because you’re disappointed less, but I don’t think it always works that way!

  • Sue from Women Living Well After 50
    February 1, 2021

    Hi Deb, I’m like Jo in that I’m probably too trusting or even naive at times, even at 63! I do however, I set the bar probably too high for myself but I also expect that others have the same level and then I get disappointed when others let me down. Is it wrong to expect others to care as much as you do? #lifethisweek

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      That’s exactly it Sue! It was the fact I was / am constantly disappointed in others that made me ponder this. It’s weird to me that I can ‘expect’ the worst but still be disappointed but realise it’s about me putting expectations I’d have for me on them. If that makes sense.

  • leannelc
    February 1, 2021

    Hi Deb – I’ve often caught myself feeling disappointed in the attitudes or responses of others. I think I expect people to respond in the same way I would – and to feel the same sense of obligation and decency that I feel – and every time they don’t, I feel that letdown sensation. It particularly hits me when it’s from people I hold to a higher standard – their fall from grace seems even worse for some reason.

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      I know, I often think… “Don’t they realise how important this / that is?” And as I said it’s often nothing to do with me but just transferring my own expectations and values onto them.

  • Lydia C. Lee
    February 1, 2021

    Well this is a heavy one. I think I need to think about this a bit. I suspect I think I’m low maintenance but am actually high maintenance. I may return with a better response….#Lifethisweek

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      I’m fairly sure I’m high maintenance…

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    February 1, 2021

    I remember once I was moaning to my psychologist about someone and how poorly they had behaved. She pointed out that the behaviour was only poor when judged by my own standards and my perception of what was “right.” I think back to that conversation often. I think you nail it that you can’t change the feeling of disappointment but you can control how you respond to it and that’s the key.

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      Oh that is so right Sammie. It’s all about our perceptions…

  • Min Write of the Middle
    February 1, 2021

    I think it’s natural that we assume others have the some expectations of themselves and others as we do but of course it isn’t the case and so it’s up to us to work on that I guess (our expectations and our reactions). I know I can be a bit quick to judge sometimes but I’ve come a long way with that and am quite open now. I do have more work to do on my expectations of others though – simple things like being on time and contacting and advising if you’re going to be late. Of course I would do those things – but others do not!

    • Debbish
      February 1, 2021

      Very true Min. There’s a lot of stuff that we take for granted that others don’t even consider. And I guess it occurs to me that people could be saying the same about me!!!

  • Debbie
    February 1, 2021

    I’m off to read that article Deb, I am a bit like Sue in how I set the bar high and expect others to be much the same – but funnily enough they’re not!

    • Debbish
      February 2, 2021

      I know… how disappointing! 😉

  • Laurie
    February 2, 2021

    I love Tiny Buddha! When I need inspiration for writing, I often go on their website to get ideas. I think I am judgemental and have harsh opinions, but this is directed at MYSELF, not others. Toward others, I am pretty quick to extend grace.

    • Debbish
      February 2, 2021

      Laurie I’ve got half a dozen Tiny Buddha articles open on my phone at any one time. I realise they reshare things often so I do read and re-read the same things again and again. I only get a little frustrated when the piece doesn’t offer any closure but then I realise my blog posts are all like that. I talk about issues and what I should do but rarely then am able to say how I’ve been successful.

  • Vanessa
    February 2, 2021

    Hmm… Half and half here. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people to act professionally and ethically eg in a work situation and I can’t see myself wanting to be flexible on that. There’s not imposing on or blaming others and there’s the whole “the standard you walk past” thing.

    • Debbish
      February 2, 2021

      Oh yes, it’s very important in the workplace but I do the same personally… and find I’m constantly disappointed.

  • Jennifer Jones
    February 2, 2021

    I tend to often be disappointed in others, as I’m sure they are in me also. We do tend to expect people to have the same thoughts and reactions as our own. I’m pretty sure I’m a bit better at this now as I’ve learnt that projecting our own thoughts and standards onto others only leads to disappointment. But it’s so easy to forget and slip into old habits. Thanks for such a thought provoking post

    • Debbish
      February 2, 2021

      That’s so right Jennifer. I’m the same. I know better but often do slip into that habit myself.

  • Natalie
    February 3, 2021

    Hi Deb, I’m an optimist and tend to have high hopes and expectations. When they are not met, I realize that it’s my optimistic lens that projects a nicer result than reality. #lifethisweek

    • Debbish
      February 3, 2021

      That sounds like a great attitude to have Natalie.

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    February 3, 2021

    I read this post on Monday and have been thinking about it since. I think personally I have been guilty of both, although over time, and more insight, I am trying to get better. I do expect less from people these days but also am more aware that not everyone thinks/behaves like me and that’s ok. I think the expectations OF others to behave a certain way is interesting and I wonder that’s what leads to so much division in society – we are so quick to judge and cancel people for not behaving or acting or even believing things the same way as we do, that we write them off in a harsh way. I feel like I’ll be reflecting on this one a bit more.

    • Debbish
      February 3, 2021

      I have to admit I’m not a fan of the ‘cancel culture’ type movement and the whole ‘stan’ thing. Not just cos the wanky words but it always seems so extreme so I know what you mean.

  • Denyse Whelan Blogs
    February 3, 2021

    Well what a post this turned out to be for conversation starters! I just read everyone’s responses. We are all there with you but from different upbringings and responses according to our measures. I ask myself all the time, why don’t some people in my family ever say thanks for anything? I mean like meals I may have cooked, treats I made and even caring for the grandkids. I know our kids did the manners thing because I have seen thank you cards and letters they wrote to grandparents. Now, from these people as adults, and their offspring, not much at all. I have to let it go and I do & I am sure whatever it is we have been appreciated for it …and I don’t do things for the thanks but…why not say it??

    We sure keep on puzzling about stuff in our lives don’t we? Blogging is awesome for pondering!

    Thank you for joining us this week for #lifethisweek. Next time, the optional prompt is 6/51 Decision. 8 Feb. and I hope to see your next blog post there too. Cheers, Denyse.

    • Debbish
      February 4, 2021

      Oh yes Denyse I use writing (and blogging) to ponder stuff. Sometimes the things I worry are completely boring or inane (specific to me and my warped mind) seem to be the things that resonate most with others.

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