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When do you get frustrated? Not disappointed – that’s a different thing. Disappointment means something hasn’t and will not happen. Frustration means it either hasn’t happened yet, or that it hasn’t happened in the expected fashion. And that’s the crux of today’s article – how to view frustration, which goes to the Second Resolution, and Character.
Frustration is a function of failed expectations. A promise is made, a contract signed, a E-Bay order submitted, an appointment set, and so on. In that moment, an expectation is established on the part of at least one party involved that the agreed consequence of the transaction will be met by the other. At this point, the ‘other’ party has only one obligation, which is to do what is expected of them. Probably nothing more. They entered into the agreement intending to do just that. To do X by Y.
Very often, the party with the expectation will have other activities which rely on X being done as agreed, which the second party knows and cares nothing about. Not their job. Why you want them to do X may not even be known to them.
This is the crux of frustration. A failure to communicate the consequences of any failure to meet the expectation. Of course, in day to day transactions such as those on-line (E-Bay, Amazon) the seller isn’t in a position to ask, and the buyer in no position to add to their order ‘I need that item for Claire’s birthday party so if it doesn’t come on time I’ll be embarrassed and she’ll be disappointed’, and it probably wouldn’t make any difference to their ability to deliver what they’ve already promised. But there are circumstances when an agreement is set, and bot parties made aware of the consequences of failing to act as expected.
But sometimes ‘it’ happens, and the expected action isn’t completed on time or as otherwise expected. That’s when Character comes in.
Character means the ability to look at a situation with an emotional detachment sufficient to see the reality – that sometimes promises are made and circumstances outside the other’s control came to pass that affected their ability to meet their obligation.
All too often, our response to a frustration is anger, accusation and a complete lack of acceptance of an absolute reality – that not everything and everyone revolves around us. Circumstances change and o one is to blame. And in situation of frustration, the first approach of a person of character to the ‘offending’ party should be inquisitorial, nor adversarial. To ask why something hasn’t happened before assuming it happened out of spite.
Not easy when your wife hasn’t come home to make the dinner. (I’m not good at this, either.)
Be honest – when someone doesn’t come through on your expectation, what’s your first inner reaction? Me, too. But there is another way.
Proactivity – the ability to make a considered choice in the gap between what’s happened and our response to it, is key. It allows us time to recognise that the world doesn’t always do what it’s supposed to, and that finding a mutually acceptable solution to a problem is better than starting a war over what is often quite a trivial problem, but one we’ve blown out of all proportion.
Next time someone doesn’t do what was asked by the time their action was needed, ask yourself whether the expectation was set as clearly as you thought, and then, if it was, enquire with the other person as to what has happened. Don’t assume you know, and then attack them.
You might need their help again, and that relationship is more important than being right. And you know, in your heart, that you aren’t perfect. And if you aren’t, why should anyone else be?
For more on character and the other Resolutions, read The Three Resolutions, available at Amazon HERE in paperback or Kindle.