Changing expectations of outcomes corresponds to changing our assumptions about other people in conflict–and out.


This is difficult, because assumptions are grounded in pattern seeking behavior that our human minds engage in, to make stories about the behaviors of other people in the world.

When those stories don’t match up to the expected behavior, people often experience disappointment.

  • Then the stock price goes down.
  • Then the family erupts into disagreement and conflict.
  • Then the organization begins the long, slow, traumatic process of firing an employee.

Disappointments are based in having unrealistic expectations about the behaviors of other people; but, since other people also have a skewed view of one another, the disappointments coalesce into conflicts, hurt feelings, and eventually, unrealized expectations.

There is no way out of this cage as long as human beings create narratives about the world, based primarily around the way that their unknowable inner lives either match up (or don’t) with the outer reality.

The thing about reality though, is that it’s relative.

Emotions drive expectations, disappointments and assumptions. They lead us to build and manage narratives about how we’d like the world to be, rather than how the world actually is structured. This structural process leads to far more conflicts than the actual conflict issues at hand.

Leaning in (to borrow the phrase) comes from addressing the hard things repeatedly, rather than just erecting new expectations, based in old assumptions, which lead to seemingly fresh and new disappointments.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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