Expectation Imposition

You can try to impose your expectations on another person, but is this really advisable?

I know, I’ve been there, too

I have been in the flow of helping others in counseling, coaching and consulting since high school. In the beginning my work was focused primarily on Christian counseling and I recognized that if it wasn’t impossible to legislate Christian conduct, it would certainly be immoral to attempt to do so. It resonated as true within my sense of being that a person could only conduct their lives in such a way as was congruent with any sense of rationality they could muster based on the individual lives they had lived up to this point in time, or simply put

Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have

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Yet early in my ministry, I kept running into walls and posturing against leadership promoting the idea that certain ideas and expectations should be enforced in order to allow participation in our program. After attempting to find ways to work-around these organized spiritual obstacles unsuccessfully, I determined more secular spiritual endeavors would better suit my ministry.

I mean, really? It appears to me that Jesus had an entirely more radical approach, like, “Love God, mind your own business and don’t screw anybody over” (admittedly, a Masters’ paraphrase, but you get the idea).

As I continued assisting others and later transitioned into training counselors, coaches and consultants, I continued to promulgate the idea that while trying to assist someone along their life’s journey, we should not impose our expectations on the client.

It’s not your life

You can, yeah but, me ‘til you’re blue in the face. I will never concede that you will ever know what’s best for another person. You may have your ideas, and by all means, it is your charge and responsibility to share your ideas, as well as others, to help your client see there are options they might have not considered.

Allow them to make their own way

You must allow them the space to make their own decisions and take their own actions and live out their own lives in their own way.

I have standards

Great; no problem with establishing a target market around the type of individuals you achieve the best results with. You only have a certain number of hours available to help others, it is prudent for you to establish your niche so you can better serve your clients with the resources you have available.

You cannot – and should not – try to be everything to everyone. This will lead to disappointment, discouragement and burnout (the fate of most non-specializing counselors).

If I can see that a client is not a good match for my coaching style, I do not demand they comply with my standards. Instead, I refer them to someone else who is better suited to help them with where they are on their life’s journey. Maybe, at a later date, we will be more compatible.

The easiest sign to identify a novice counselor, coach or consultant, is when he or she says, “I told them what to do and they wouldn’t do it,” with a certain degree of angst. While a more-seasoned professional might say, “I made some suggestions. In my opinion, they did not select the option I might have selected but c’est la vie.”

When someone doesn’t take advice from you and you’ve encouraged him or her to look at all the possible outcomes from various points of view, you might consider applauding them for blazing their own trail, then just sit back and see how their decision works out for them. You might be surprised (as I have been on many occasions) how well things do work out for them, even though you might not have fared as well.

And if things don’t work out for them as well as they’d hoped, for god’s sake do not tell them, “I told you so.” Instead, put yourself in their shoes; how would you feel if you were him or her? A little humility goes a long way. It is not your job to judge, but to empathetically support the client; not to validate your ego-dominated superiority.

Lighten up – Let it be

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