Managing Disappointment Starts With Managing Expectations

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managing disappointment

Managing Disappointment Starts With Managing Expectations

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Are you working hard for an outcome only to later become disappointed? Have you given your best effort but someone only expresses their perceived shortcomings in your work? Are you effectively managing disappointment?

It may happen today, perhaps it happened yesterday, or maybe it even feels like a chronic pattern. What is the root cause of disappointment?

Great Expectations

It seems that the root cause is linked to expectations. We have a goal, or someone sets a goal for us. It could be related to vision. A great cake to me is chocolate, but a great cake to someone else may be vanilla.

Misunderstanding expectations are sometimes to blame. Differences in opinions, values, and beliefs may also be a cause. “When I discovered her political views, I was disappointed.”

So, the root cause probably exists in expectations. What is expected compared with what is received.

I worked so hard on that assignment, but I only received an 80% for my grade. 

I’m disappointed in my meal. It looked nothing like it did in the picture. 

My hair looks terrible. It came out completely different than I expected. 

Society is constantly shaping many of our expectations. Social media, traditional or digital media, and other informational sources are constantly changing our expectations. 

Today many of us have a camera in hand. The photographs are processed immediately, and are also easily filtered, adjusted, and cropped. What does this lead to? It could be higher expectations.

Managing Disappointment

Perhaps the best thing to always ask yourself about disappointment is, “Compared to what?” When there are feelings or expressions of disappointment you may have to consider the expectations.

If you work with your supervisor on goals, be sure of the expectations. When you get a new project, understand the expectations.

We tend to place too much emphasis on what didn’t work as compared to what did work.

Instead of assessing the output and being critical, consider how you will build on what worked.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Dennis Gilbert

August 2, 2018at 6:19 am

Great! Thanks for your comment(s)!


August 1, 2018at 11:50 am

How about:

I always do my best, so I expect the best.

All Good!

Life is easy!

This is fun!

WOW, Awesome!

…stuff like that works for me.

Oh…. and, Just Keeping It Simple!

Thanks! Great posting!


Dennis Gilbert

August 1, 2018at 9:30 am

That is the great part because in many situations you create your own expectations. It is a tricky subject because in some cases expectations can also be motivational. One example is thinking, “good enough” which is different from thinking, “this isn’t perfect, but”.

You ask a difficult or tricky question to answer in just a few words. What are your thoughts? Do you have ideas?


August 1, 2018at 8:40 am

What is an example of a positive, prosperous, and happy expectation?

(…something that I could use as my core expectation to build upon.)

Thanks In Advance 🙂

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