Dealing with unmet expectations

Several years ago, I had a conversation with my boss where I asked if he could take 10-15 minutes once a month to check in on me, as I found it difficult to ask for help in the moment. Without flinching, he said he couldn’t guarantee anything. I left the conversation in disbelief and anger. I thought I had a completely realistic expectation of a leader, and he shut me down.

I stayed angry for a while, but then I realized something. If I truly had a need, I was responsible to meet it. No matter how reasonable my expectation was, I could not force the other person to fulfill it. I had to find another way.

This is not an isolated event. It’s happened numerous times where I had what I thought were completely realistic expectations of others, only to realize – sometimes painfully – that they were not willing or able to fulfill them. Of course, I could keep pushing, but it is an exercise in futility guaranteed to cause further frustration (and who knows, maybe permanent damage). I’m a slow learner it seems, because I have to keep reminding myself to take responsibility for my own needs and get creative in making things happen. In the scenario above, it was as simple as finding other people I could talk to when I needed help.

What about you? Have you found yourself in a similar position? What do you need to do about it?