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As a professional coach, I have the kinds of conversations that you wish your best friend was trained and willing to have with you: highly intuitive, no bullshit, and consistently relating to you as your best self.

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So You (Inadvertently) Screwed Up. Now What?

A few weeks back, I wrote about how to keep our expectations in check so as to take responsibility for and clearly communicate our needs and wants. As I’ve reflected back, I notice it seems just as important to address the impact of failing to meet someone else’s expectations. Because sometimes, other people want or need stuff from us that we don’t know about or haven’t consented to. And when we don’t meet those expectations, they may have some feelings about it. Disappointment, anger, feeling victimized kinds-of-feelings. For those of us who cringe at the thought of losing someone’s approval, this can be pretty excruciating.

So what do you do when you miss the mark?

First, let’s revisit what expectations are. You can read the blog post here if you’d like, but to summarize: expectations are hopes, dreams, rules, or other needs or wants that one person assigns to another, without their permission. We don’t typically intend to be covert or sneaky about it; it just happens that way. As tempting as it might be to flip the script and make the other person wrong, I want to be clear that this isn’t about making anyone right or wrong. You are not “wrong” for not meeting someone else’s expectations. They are not “wrong” for having the expectations.

So…now what?

  1. Remind yourself that other people’s feelings are not your responsibility. That is their job.
  2. Remind yourself that you will survive someone being disatisfied with you. Although it may feel like you can’t stand being the subject of someone else’s displeasure, I assure you that you can, and you will.
  3. Examine what actually happened. What is lesson or opportunity for your growth?
  4. Give everyone – yourself included – more grace than you think is deserved.
  5. Take ownership for what’s yours. What was present or missing in your own communication that had it go this way?
  6. Decide to forgive yourself. Seriously, how long are you going to keep beating yourself up?
  7. Decide to forgive whomever else is involved. Holding grudges and resentments is like opting for a continuous infusion of poison.
  8. Choose what’s next. What’s next could mean an apology, if you feel compelled. What’s next could mean simply being with the discomfort of someone else’s disappointment without needing to “fix” it, for you or for them. What’s next could mean allowing space for everyone involved to sort themselves out. They will survive. And you will, too.

If you have other thoughts you’d like to add to the conversation, please feel free to share. And as always, reach out if you’d like support. You can (and will) survive.




So You (Inadvertently) Screwed Up. Now What?

  1. […] you’d like some other suggestions on how to handle an unwanted outcome, here’s another article I wrote that you may find […]

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