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Managing Expectations: The Skill That Never Gets Old

Something new is coming your way.

A new class. A new rotation. A new job. A promotion. A different schedule. New partners. A new team.

You get the idea.

When you think about it, new things come our way ALL of the time. But what is one mistake that we all make when this happens? We.Assume.Everything.

We use past experiences to pre-judge what this new experience will be like. We use OTHER people’s stories as the prelude to our chapter. We sometimes accept gossip and false information INSTEAD of seeking out the truth because it’s easier, faster, and probably more believable. We don’t ASK what is expected of us and others when this new thing happens. We start without the roadmap.

I was coaching a student who was very upset after the first week of their APPE rotation. They said things like, “My preceptor doesn’t like me, I just know it. The technicians told me that he doesn’t like having students here and he never gives A’s. I haven’t said much because I don’t want to bother him. I just keep my head down and try to do a good job every day. I want to get to know him and ask him questions but I don’t even know how to do this.”

This student was SO brave for sharing their story with me. They wanted to prove to their preceptor that having a student can be helpful. They wanted to learn from their preceptor.

Guess what we talked about? Managing expectations. We talked about how the information from the technicians may be not be 100% true. We talked about ways to bring up goals and expectations for the rotation so that they could both work from the same page. What if the “good work” the student was doing was nothing that the preceptor wanted them to do?

When we have the courage to ASK about expectations when something new comes our way, then we know where we stand, what the intended outcome is, and what to do to improve. When we do this over and over with small and big things in our lives, we eliminate stress, uncertainty, and assumptions. Then you’ll start to notice that this skill of asking about expectations develops over time – and it begins easier to start these conversations with every new situation.

Think about something new coming into your life in the near future. What can you do differently to manage your expectations around that? If this topic resonates with you, message me – I’d love to hear about it!

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