Sunday, September 23, 2012

I expect you to....

When I was 8 years old, I asked for a desk and a chair for my birthday. One little desk with one little chair so that I could sit and draw or paint or read all by myself . Instead my dad bought a round desk with 4 chairs. I was really upset and wanted to throw the desk and chair out from the play room my parents had assigned to me.  Their thought was that I would be happy to have a table where my friends could come and play with me and we could have fun together, they thought I would be very happy to have a table where I could socialise and they did not know what I already had in my mind and what I was expecting to get. From my perspective now, I am sure my parents were perplexed and not a little disappointed with my reaction but from a coach's point of view, I now see what went wrong. It was about a difference between my expectations and my parents thoughts of what my expectations were.

I see this happening in our dealings with people quite a lot and wonder how many problems could have been avoided if we could have a discussion between the two parties interacting with each other and get a better picture of what the other expects.

Examples from my  past experiences:

A speaker was engaged for a conference and it was understood he would be given free food and lodging. The contracting was not well done however, and, he arrived several days earlier and decided to fly back several days later. He expected his whole visit to be paid for by the organizer but the organizers only wanted to pay for three days including the day of his presentation. This difference in expectation and the resulting misunderstanding could have been avoided if the terms of his engagement were stipulated clearly beforehand.

For Muslims, I would like to point out that contracting is clearly stated in several verses of the Quran.( Verses at the end of this article)

An agreement between two parties should at first be clearly stated, so that both parties are clear on what would be provided and in which quantity and on what date under what terms . This applies even to freebies and to any other dealings between two parties. It could be between patient and doctor, between customer and vendor , between a professional and his client, between a teacher and the pupils, between a husband and a wife and the list is endless. A discussion followed by a thorough understanding of what the other party expects is a contract, whether it be verbal or written. A written contract is far superior to a verbal one when it comes to disputes which arise after the contracting.

A vague promise by one party say Mr A,  would lead the other party, Mr B to imagine the undertaking to be more than what Mr A was willing to give and this applies to all of the parties I mentioned above and any that you could think of .

This also holds true for service providers who get payment for their services. Supposing I were to engage an entertainer for an event. Surely there will be terms of the payment . Perhaps a payment and some other benefits. What if there was an agreement to the terms and just before the event, the entertainer made some new requests? Surely I would feel that the entertainer had reneged on the original agreement and it would upset me. Indeed, in this case, the entertainer should right from the beginning state his/her terms and make sure that he/she does not demand more that what was agreed upon even if it meant he/she was being compensated less that what he/she felt he/she deserved!

An example I often quote between two people who marry each other is the expectation of the wife that she is getting a prince charming who will bring her flowers and gifts while the husband is imagining there is now someone who will cook and clean for him in the daytime while becoming a femme fatale at night ! Fireworks indeed when the prince charming turns out to be a snoring couch potato and the cook cleaner and femme fatale turns out to be a the girl who can only take care of her own little body or one who does the cooking and cleaning and gets so tired out that she goes to bed with her sweaty work clothes! So, you guys and girls who are planning to get married, do manage your expectations of each other , talk it out and spell out the dos and don'ts and make it as realistic and practical as possible . 

Below I quote several verses from the Quran that speak about contracts and honoring its terms:

1. O you who believe! Fully discharge (the obligations arising through) contracts
(Surah Ma’idah 5:1).

2. …and those who truly care for their trusts (left by others in their care) and their
covenants. (Surah Mu’minun 23:8).

1. Fully discharge the volume (to be provided to the client) when you measure in
volume, and weigh (the commodities sold by weight) by an accurate scale. That is
goodness and better (as a material and practical) interpretation (of the contract of sale
you have concluded).
(Surah Isra 17:34)

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