Unspoken Expectations: Hidden Frustrations

In life, work, home, or family we have expectations of others. Others have expectations of us. Some expectations are shared and we can choose to meet the expectation or not.

Your employer may expect you to show up to work on time. They inform you. You wake up early to meet that expectation. There are consequences for being late, and certain actions will be taken if needed.

Pretty clear expectation with appropriate ramifications.

Not all expectations are as clear.

There are Unspoken Expectations.

Unlike regular expectations, the unspoken version are not clear and you may not know that they exist. Not knowing doesn’t prevent being measured against this standard. In fact, the Unspoken Expectations are typically measured more stringently.

Why do we keep these expectations to ourselves?

Why don’t we tell that employee that we really want them to show initiative and take on a project to call their own?

Why don’t we say we really don’t want to eat out there? Or go visit those people? Or attend that event?

Why don’t we tell our boss that we need more concrete feedback, not a passing “You’re Awesome” as they rush past us in a distracted flurry?

Why don’t we say this his how we need to be treated?

As we measure other people against these expectations, our frustration builds. We are not getting what we think need or want from others, and we keep it hidden.

These Hidden Frustrations pile on each other and create distance and difficulty in our relationships and our organizations.

Something prevents us from speaking out these expectations, and the frustrations grow. These Hidden Frustrations damage our ability to lead, follow, or relate to those around us.

Once we know that we may holding others to Unspoken Expectations, two options appear.

1. If the expectation is that important, we need to move past our fear and have a conversation.

2. If our frustration is being caused by an unrealistic expectation, we may need to let that standard go.

Over the next few days, when you are feeling frustrated with others, take out a sheet of paper. Write down the expectations. Seeing those words and expectations will help determine which option to follow.

7 thoughts on “Unspoken Expectations: Hidden Frustrations

  1. Good post! Not many people are aware of the unspoken expectations they hold. It is difficult communicating when you may not know yourself what exactly you are expecting until you feel the disappointment of that expectation not being met. Assuming everyone can read your mind is a huge human problem! Guilty.

  2. Hey Carl,

    Great to see you blogging more frequently! This last one will be a great conversation starter for my wife and me…:-) I have also heard the phrase ‘unarticulated assumptions’ used to describe this all too common phenomenon (that’s the linguistician in me coming out to play). I’d love to get together and catch up some time-I think it’s my turn to buy coffee or lunch!

    Have a great day!


    Geoff Martin, CGP, CGR, CAPS | President cedar mill group, inc. | 334 Deer Meadow Road


    Webster | NH | 03303 | USA Office: 603.225.6911

    Fax: 603.746.2489

    Cell: 603.848.4278

    Proud Member of NHContractors.net

    HBRANH 2009/2010 Remodeler of the Year


    Authorized Dealer of the PGA TOUR Golf Simulator and aboutGolf Products


Comments are closed.