Have you ever left a meeting upset since it failed to live up to your expectations? Or have you ever gone into a meeting fully expecting to hear your boss say one thing but told you something that is entirely different? The ability to listen actively what a speaker is saying is hampered by the expectations that you carry into a communication situation. These expectations may be about the topic.
Failed To Get a Topic From the Speaker?
For instance, you expect the presenter at a meeting to take a particular stand on a topic or reach a certain conclusion.
When he starts to talk, you imagine you know what is going to be said and listen selectively to support your expectations. You do not listen objectively to what he is saying.
Your expectations also may be about the speaker. Part of these expectations may be based on your prior experience with the speaker.
“Oh, he’s always boring,” is an example of expectations you may have. But you also have roles that you expect people to fall into as a result of their status. These expectations can suppress communication.
When someone doesn’t act the way you expect him to, your expectations will filter what you hear him saying.
Your Expectations Relate To a Particular Situation
Your expectations also may relate to a specific situation. You may have caught yourself saying, “I wish I didn’t have to go to that uninteresting meeting.”
When you catch yourself saying something like this, you are expressing your negative expectations for the situation. If you go into the situation, expectations in full swing, they will create a self-fulfilling prediction.
Irrespective of the reality of the situation, the meeting will be boring, and you will only “hear” the unnecessary small talk.
Prepare a List of Your Expectations?
In order to control your expectations, prior to your next meeting or conversation, prepare a list of what you expect out of the topic, situation, or the speaker.
This list represents the obstacles that prevent you from actively listening and being able to communicate efficiently.
Test your reactions earlier to the meeting or conversation and look forward to your reactions to specific ideas or situations. Try to predict a full range of responses. Ask yourself, “If he says this, how will I act in response?” This is useful in situations when you have had some problem in communicating or when you anticipate hearing information that will make you uncomfortable.
Mindset Filters Everything
Your interaction is governed by your particular mindset at the time when you converse with another person.
Your mindset filters the information you receive and often can prevent you from communicating and listening actively and objectively.
Your immediate mindset filters everything through your current concerns, together with your expectations, present personal relationships or something as simple as what has happened right before the conversation.
Your long-term mindset filters everything through your personal background, your values, your past experiences, and even your earliest childhood memories.
Your immediate filters are those that change depending on current situations. They may be influenced by your long-term filters, but for the most part these are factors that right away concern you.