Unexpected Expectations

I replied to a comment by Laura Donnelly by saying “I do not know if the term I use “unexpected expectations” is correct, but at least it is in line with unknown unknowns.

This reminded me of the Johari Window. Now, we have the Expectation Window:

The Expectation Window is analogous to the Johari Window. Source, Ali Anani, PhD

Life is full of examples. One recent example is a post published by Jean L. Serio in which she shared the research finding of employees leaving their jobs because they expected the new offers are the better ones. Most of them ended up regretting leaving their jobs and their expectations failed them. The unexpected expectations fell short of their hopes.

Expectations are different from expectancy. Expectancy is to have hope without an outcome.

Let me explain by example. A job seeker may say I hope I get the job. This is expectancy because it has no definite outcome. Now, if the job seeker says I am 99% confident I shall get the job there is a definite outcome. This is expectation.

I believe the Expectation Window helps in understanding this issue better. This is a crucial window because, in our VUCA world, the likelihood that expectations shall materialize is getting lesser and lesser.

Unrealized expectations can fill the hearts with feelings of failure and can be very demotivating.

There are expectations that are clear and known by self and others. These are open expectations.

There are expectations that are unknown to us but are known to others. I think new employees are an example of this. They know little about the new work culture and may fall into the disappointment of the blind expectation trap.

There are expectations that are known to self but unknown to others. One example is smart investors who have solid information to predict swings in the market that others are unaware of. Others fall into the hidden expectation trap.

Finally, there are expectations that are unknown to all. One example is the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. All of the people fell into the unknown expectation trap.

Before you expect try to find out in which domain your expectations fall. This relieves great disappointments.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. An interesting thought/model, Ali, that brings forth the word awareness. I rewrite unexpected/unknown expectations to something we are not aware that we have expectations about.

    In “my world”, it could be that we are unaware that we have expectations of other people’s behaviors to conform to our cultural preferences. (We may be unaware that we even have such a thing as culturally induced preferences.)
    Once we are aware, we may have expectations that could be in the other’s blind corner, because we are absolutely rotten at stating these expectations; “I mean, everybody knows this, right?”

    Staying with this theme, the expected by self but unexpected by others shows up so often when people are profiled and underestimated – to the detriment of the person surprised.

    That is a pretty unique thing about expectations that we can be “disappointed” even when we get much more than we expected – because we get checked about how abysmally poor we are about predicting the future.

    • Great and explaratory comment, Charlotte.

      I like your definition of “I rewrite unexpected/unknown expectations to something we are not aware that we have expectations about.”
      This is not it? To have something and not to be aware of it!
      This happens in life. One example somone has a talent that he is unaware about it.

      I like all your descriptions of the four domains of the quadrant. You captured the image very well and added clarifications to my explanations.

      Yes, even though our expectations are abysmally poor yet w keep on predicting!

  2. Luckily I do not need to ask myself this quetion that you mentiond, Aldo.
    I mean “Why do I have this expectation?” It is simply that whenever you comment you rise up above expectations. So, why to expect?

    Blind expectations and unknown expectations can indeed deprive us of hope. When our expectation come true we feel great and when not the opposite happens.
    We need to remember that expectations are dynamic and change with time, mood and many other factors. We shall only know if they were right or wrong when time times come and unfold their accuracy.
    It is accepting expectations are so and not facts.

  3. Thank you for bringing to our attention this always fascinating subject, treated in this article in a very scholarly way.
    Although dangerous, expectations are part of our mind.
    When they work well they allow us to orient ourselves towards someone or something, they help us build mental representations of who we are in front of or what will happen in a given situation. Somehow they make us feel safe: perhaps precisely because they are more ours than real.
    The expectations that trap us, on the other hand, are those that make us lose sight of the other. Those that prevent us from taking “two steps back”, from reflecting on our behavior even before judging that of others.
    I believe that in front of anything or anyone, a good question to ask is: Why do I have this expectation?