The Power of Harmonious Expectations -- final in a six-part series

Part VI in a series identifies the advantages of properly utilizing expectations to create a powerful tool for success.

With all of this talk about conflicting and unstated expectations, it might be tempting to think of expectations as evil things to be avoided at all costs. But this is not really the case. Like so many other things, when properly utilized, expectations can be a powerful tool.

It has been said, "Find out what other people want, help them get it, and you will be successful."

As the quote above would indicate, it is a great strategy to take the trouble to find out other people's needs -- their expectations -- and to assist them in getting what they need and meeting those expectations.

Furthermore, even the simplest transaction, ultimately, is about the matching of harmonious expectations: You have an expectation that you will eat today. The farmer has an expectation that he will sell the fruit he picked today. Put those two expectations together and we have harmony (along with a full pocketbook and full stomach)!

Pulling it all together:

  • Constantly be in touch with yourself about what your expectations are, and to what extent they are flexible or negotiable.
  • Seek to learn the expectations of others. If they are unclear about their expectations, assist them to clarify them.
  • Thoroughly communicate to ensure mutual understanding of expectations.
  • When expectations appear to be in conflict, negotiate compromise to bring them in line. If full alignment is not possible, adapt and compensate to the degree practical.
  • When alignment is not possible, and even after adaptation the conflict seems excessive, consider other alternatives.
  • Watch for the uncontrolled expansion of expectations, for others and yourself.
  • On an ongoing basis, manage the expectations of others to ensure mutual clarity, avoid conflicts, and maximize the benefits of harmonious expectations.
  • In developing new relationships, try to learn of their expectations, and share yours with them, so that those expectations can be beneficially built upon and pitfalls can be avoided.
  • Seek out synergistic expectations, where the combined expectations are not just compatible but create a collective strength.
  • Leverage harmonious expectations, utilizing their pooled power to drive even greater success.

© Ascent Advising 2006 (reprinted exclusively by SNEWS® with permission)

Dave Bartholomew is a principal with Ascent Advising, providing wide-ranging business advisory services to companies around the globe. His 30 years in leadership roles in the outdoor industry equip him well for coming alongside business owners and executive teams in moving their companies ever upward. His popular email newsletter, “Adages from Ascent”, brings to light vital and innovative concepts for running a business. For a free subscription, and to view past issues of the newsletter, visit and follow the link for “Adages from Ascent”. Dave can be reached at or 206-669-7055.


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