My Fair Lady, a truly wonderful musical second to Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, has a quote from Eliza that stirs my soul. She makes this comment to Pickering, the professor's friend: "You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treat me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will."
I touched on this phenomenon just the other day. Countless times each day we communicate our expectations to the people around us. I know that without realizing it, I've sent cues to others about what I expect from them. I think I got real messed up when I had started listening to this talk show on my way to and from work everyday. I listened to Dr. Laura and took to heart what she said about everything. She basically said we have no way of changing anyone around us. For the most part that's true, but her fatal flaw in her prescription was also stating that we just have to accept the behavior if we want to continue to have a relationship with these people. I disagree.
I believe that our expectations can shape behavior, if this weren't the case, wouldn't we just all let our kids do whatever they want? I mean, we do have expectations and we give our children feedback. Why not do this with the adults in our lives as well? Sometimes putting the expectations out there may end the relationship, and that's probably a good thing.
Just recently, a person in my life changed some travel plans which caused hers to overlap with mine and thus not allowing my child to participate in her planned activity. The same thing happened last year and I was forced to choose instead of being able to participate in both events. I had a feeling that the same thing might happen again. So, I should have said when I found out about her trip and when it was planned; "Okay, you told me you're leaving on this date. I've marked it on the calendar. I'm planning my own trip on this date. You know when it is and when I'm coming back. If you change your date, and it interferes with my plans, please don't get upset and demand that I change the date of my trip or cut my trip short."
Then I began to wonder if, because I expected the possibility of a repeat performance...did I cause her to behave this way? Did my poor communication with this person lock her into poor performance? I truly believe that our expectations gets us exactly what we get. That's something to ponder...