Nov 162004
Authors: Kelly Hagenah

I am sick of it. I am fed up with assumptions and expectations, especially when they accomplish nothing but bad feelings. It amazes me how often these types of communication come into play negatively and hurt relationships, especially when they're not necessary. However, because we all still have a stubborn, adolescent nature unconsciously lurking beneath us, we tend to avoid the one thing that can stop this – conversation.

The most influential communication events in our life are conversations. It is through conversing that we are able to create relationships and establish our identity. These bonds can be torn to shreds when we avoid conversations. It is the mistake of assumptions and expectations that steer us away from direct confrontation, and lead us to conflict.

We all have expectations and sometimes, although unintentional, they are too high or vague and we become hurt and disappointed. We expect our friends, family and significant others to act in certain ways, especially when certain aspects of popular culture tell us they should (example: those cheesy TV shows we love where everything is perfect and if there is a problem it's worked out in under 30 minutes). At the same time, we expect them to not only know what to do, but to also know what we expect of them. It's not easy, especially when we stop to think that they are probably expecting just that from us as well.

But the thing is, life happens. And as much as we all may want to be the greatest friend, relative, boyfriend or girlfriend, it doesn't always work out. So when these expectations are not met, we end up avoiding that person because we think they should come to us since they let us down. However, that person is probably expecting us to confront them since it is our problem, and we all end up misconstruing the situation since no communication has taken place. But if we could set aside our stubbornness and take the time to talk it out we would find that there is an explanation, and most likely it's not what we thought.

Which leads to another communication flaw that can kill conversation, assumptions. How many times have we all jumped to a conclusion about someone without discussing it, because we already made an assumption? We assume things because they've happened in the past, or because it's a typical characteristic of someone, or even just because it makes sense. Sure there is the chance that an assumption is true, but they often turn out to be wrong. These assumptions, which range from stereotypes, first impressions and misunderstandings, halt the communication process and affect our relationships.

However, once again, if we just took that step beyond our stubbornness, we would find out that there are exceptions, that our assumptions can be wrong. We would be able to avoid hurt by expressing our pain, and help relationships, whether they're filled with history or brand new.

Assumptions and expectations are two major concepts within communication that we take the wrong way; not only do we tend to assume the negative, but we also hold expectations that often are too high and not exactly clear. One alternative, and a better idea, is to change our thought pattern to be more laid-back and optimistic. Assume the positive. Believe that things happen for your benefit, because people love you, because in the end things will work out. While we should expect the best, it's not always going to happen, but if we just relaxed our expectations a little we'd wind up happier and sometimes even surprised.

It is hard not to jump to conclusions, especially in such a fast-paced society that pretty much hand delivers everything in simply wrapped packages. And while we should try to relax our expectations and assume more optimistically, we can't expect or assume that that will always happen. However, if we just used conversations, the one thing that comes naturally to us and that we've been doing for as long as we can remember, we'd find answers that may not make sense, may not be what we thought, but are real and true, and we would all be a lot happier.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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