Manage Expectations w/ These People Skills | #PeopleSkills #Leadership

We often realize that we didn’t manage expectations when conflict and anger erupt. Well, that’s a little late. Yet the good news is, we can manage expectations much better with people skills and foresight.



Manage Expectations: Image is an eye w/ lavender blue eyeball.

Manage Expectations With People Skills of Foresight. Image by Lavender’s Legacy via Flickr.

Image by Lavender’s Legacy via Flickr Creative Commons License.


Manage Expectations w/ People Skills & Foresight

To manage expectations, use foresight. When we learn early on what people want and need, we can manage their expectations. The following people skills steps deliver that foresight.


People Skills Steps to Manage Expectations

#1 Seek to understand! Ask questions and listen to the answers.

When interacting with your employees, your leaders, your teammates, or your customers, find out what they care about at that moment. Questioning and listening are essential people skills to manage expectations.



#2 Clarify their assumptions from what you’ve heard.

When you find the gap between their assumptions and your current thinking, you are on your way to manage expectations. On the other hand, if you don’t address assumptions, the assumptions will erode the interaction.



#3 Think, speak, and act with emotional intelligence.

Steps one and two prepare you to reply respectfully and to collaborate to manage expectations. Use what you’ve uncovered to …


  • Modify your original goal to first address their assumptions

  • Think about what you will say/do

  • Ask yourself how people will hear it (positively, resentfully, etc…)

  • Consider what they will think as a result

  • Change how you say it and then speak


Manage Expectations: True Story to Illustrate

Two sisters go to a surgeon for a consultation. One sister had broken two fingers in a fall. The other sister drove her to the surgeon for the appointment and sat in the room to support her sister. The surgeon examined the sister’s fingers and said, “OK we need to do a simple procedure tomorrow at the same day surgi-center. We don’t need to put you fully under anesthesia. We just put you in twilight, put pins in to set the two fingers, and you go home. Then six weeks later we take out the pins and you get physical therapy to rebuild the strength. That’s it!”

The next morning, the sister drove her to have the simple procedure at 10:45 am. The sister waited in the waiting room while she was in having the procedure. Hours and hours later, she was still waiting with no update on her sister’s condition and on when the procedure would be complete.


Manage Expectations: Be Open-Minded and Ready

Finally the surgeon came out and said to the sister who was waiting that everything went well. She replied, “Well that’s good to know. I’ve been out here so long without any update.”

The sister was communicating to the surgeon that she expected the procedure to be simple. She assumed that simple meant they wouldn’t be there for four hours. Unfortunately, the surgeon didn’t manage expectations well. He replied, “Oh you’re nervous.” Yet, he was wrong. She wasn’t nervous. He created the expectation that it would all be easy and it didn’t seem that way to her. However, instead of owning and closing the expectations’ gap, he assumed she was nervous and patronized her.





Instead of assuming, manage expectations with foresight, people skills, and emotional intelligence. Surely your employees, leaders, teammates, customers, friends, and family, will thank you for listening, learning, collaborating, and communicating clearly.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Clarify & Speak Sooner to Prevent Needless Conflict
3 Things All Customers Expect
Prevent Verbal Conflict w/ This People Skills Approach
People Skills Smarts: Communicate or Become Irrelevant

©2019 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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