Expectations: Key to Understanding Others

Do really first impression last? Many would disagree would this because upon meeting another for the first time, everything we know seems to be superficial, and the more we spend time with certain people, we get to know them better, making first impression either incorrect or simply inaccurate. However, this blogpost will not focus on these impressions, rather on our expectations which could be developed since the first meeting or the succeeding ones. This is actually for me very crucial how we understand based on them.

The popular definition of expectation has three parts: (1) it is a strong belief, (2) of something will happen, or (3) be the case. So from the definition, it is clear that expectations revolves around events or situations, not individuals. However, this events maybe the result of action of humans that aid in creating the belief, or further strengthening the expectation. So what can we understand by this.

Expectation is a mere supposition.

If there is a pattern, then one could either infer or predict. This is true in  mathematics and logic. However, when one deals with behavior, this is a different aspect. People still use logic with behavior inducing and deducing what probably will happen or explaining why things happen. In the contrary, expectations of behavior are not accurate supposition. These are just estimates, that are probably very inaccurate. It is subjective and sometimes based on feelings, rather than logic. It is natural to make expectations, but one should only use it to infer with a short period of time. For example, the next action after this moment, rather than what it will be tomorrow. The longer the duration one expects to behave as expected, the greater the chance of logical error one makes.

Expectation is a product of the mind to instill order.

Our minds will always seek what is easier for us to understand based on logic. That is just how our brains work. We fit experiences to a pattern we make based on what happened before. This is how we avoid mistakes by not repeating them. This is psychologically-known as conditional responses. However, the same mind pathway makes us expect things based on what we experience. If something is uncertain, we associate it to the nearest easily-understood phenomenon. For example, our hunches give us the idea of something bad. We expect bad things to happen because we feel an undefined anxiety. There may not be a bad situation, but only a bad feeling which made us to believe on our bad hunch. This is the most logical way the mind can do. Moreover, kissing or hugging maybe interpreted actions of affections when in fact, they are not. We only expected them to be because it is the most orderly thing to believe on.

Expectations either limit or expands our understanding of others.

The result of expectations could either be restrictive and constructive. Expectations could be compared to a box that either contains or expands. We put people on self-created boxes of understanding. A man could be perceived good and orderly. So that man will no longer do anything crazy. The moment he actually makes mistakes, the mistake is blown out of proportion, because he is expected not to commit that mistake, which others make it naturally. This is restrictive in the sense that one loses the concept of multifacet personality. One has both good and bad sides, and even many in between. Our expectations are therefore false and judgmental at the same time. We put people on boxes, believing they should behave according to how he or she expected.

In a practical sense, expectations could give advantage and disadvantages to communication and relationship. It is beneficial to detect changes in habits, thereby initiating further questions to avoid future more serious problems. It also provides a sense of stability, but it is a sign of monotony. One could not be placed in a box of expectations, such that he or she shoudld behave in such way because it is the most probable thing to occur. There would be loss of the surprise factor, or the willingness to explore something better because one is already expected to do what he or she is expected to. Worse, expectations could be used as weapon by others, by hiding changes under the blanket of expectations. Since one is expected to behave such, one will continue to do so, with the intention of hiding what the real thing is. It is therefore important for us to make expectations as baseline of behavior or a spring board, not as a definitive conclusion or rule for understanding others.


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