What if, rather than ask,
"How can I get this person to do what I want them to do," we asked,
"How can I connect with this person?"
Getting people [including our spouse or kids] to comply with our rigid expectations will inevitably lead to controlling them.
Control always leads to shame.
Because the one doing the controlling [expecting compliance] assumes it's their right to do so. It sets the two parties on unequal footing. The receiving person's dignity is seen as dispensable.
Are expectations a good thing? Yes. To live without them is to live without values and to assume our own dignity is indispensable.
But demanding compliance at the cost of another person's heart isn't acceptable. God himself is gracious with latitude: He allows, even welcomes, self-will - the capacity to make uncoerced choices without the threat of disappointing him.
It's helpful to ask: "Does the person's heart matter more to me than their behavior?"
The controlling dynamic centers around "IF...THEN..."
"If you do this, I'll be happy with you. If you don't meet my expectations, I'll be disappointed with you."
"If you comply with my expectations, I will reward you. If not, you'll suffer the consequences."
THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL. Instead, God says, "I will bless you on your worst day."
A better way
Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and other leadership books, offers an alternative:
1. "Lead with questions, not answers."
2. "Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion."
3. "Conduct autopsies, without blame."
I would add a couple others:
- "Give feedback about failed expectations as information, not condemnation." [remove the emotional sting]
- "Put the heart of the other person first. Worry about behavior later."
It's about connecting, not compliance.