What we say matters. How we interact with others matters. Lately there has been a pattern in many conversations that almost went unnoticed until someone close to me pointed it out. I call this pattern the unintentional high standard.
A quick definition is in order. The unintentional high standard is when someone describes their expectation of something or someone else then proceeds to discuss how that other person or thing is not meeting that standard. This can be in the form of a rant, complaint, or sometimes a tirade.
“I cannot believe that [insert name here] has not called me more often. I feel like this relationship is one-sided.”
“Did you see the dish they brought to the party, did they even try?”
“I cannot believe [insert spouse or significant other here] wasn’t more [pick one: caring, compassionate, understanding, loving, excited, interested, engaged] about [insert topic here].”
At some point in one of these interactions while you are simply the bystander or listener, you begin to wonder how often this person says the same things about you to others. If they are holding up this standard for others, even if unintentional, they must be holding this standard against you too. Maybe you even dare to ask.
“So, is this the way you feel about me? When I don’t call as often, or brought that crappy side dish to the party?”
“No, I am just ranting, but I am not that way with You!”
Really? Are you the one exception to this high standard? Do you get a pass that the rest of the universe doesn’t receive? And how does it feel to be around someone who is always pointing out where others are not meeting the mark?
For the next week or so, spend a little time listening and see how often we all create these unintentional high standards. Maybe we should do a little less ranting and a little less complaining. I pointed this out to someone recently, and the saddest part was they didn’t even realize they were doing it.