Expectations and Limitations in Working Relationships

Expectations and Limitations in Working Relationships

I started off the New Year with a new personal trainer. Yeah, I know I can lift weighs by myself, but a personal trainer guarantees improved performances by making me kick my own butt! 

Try it; you might find your performance in any endeavor – personal or professional, physically or mentally – will benefit from having a coach.

My first training session with the new guy started off with a conversation about the expectations I have for my work outs. I’m trying to improve the quality of my life, not win the Mr. Universe contest! And, perhaps, more importantly, letting him know upfront my limitations when it comes to lifting weights. As much as I hate to admit it my two replacement knees, a plate in the right wrist and a variety of aches and pains that come from physically abusing myself by playing competitive handball for two decades, cannot do what my 23-year-old body could do, even with the application of more focus and desire!

This conversation was much different than the one I would have had with him before I recognized – out of necessity – all my limitations. 

Before being realistic about my limitations, I would have given him an exaggerated perspective on how strong I was.  Which might have resulted in 1) either an injury as I tried to lift more weight than I safely could or 2) embarrassment as it became apparent to the coach that I was full of crap.   In any event, a wiser – and older – me was candid in this conversation about what I really could do.

In response to the discussion about my limitations, the coach then told me his workout philosophy and, based on what I said, what I could expect to get out of the coaching relationship. At the end of that conversation, we both felt we could work together and so we started.

This initial conversation established the parameters of our working relationship.

That’s not to say it won’t change over time, but we both needed a practical starting point so we could start doing what we both needed to do: him developing a workout routine that suited my particular limitations and me knowing what I could expect to get from the workout routine.

The Bottom Line

This same honest and transparent conversation about expectations and limitations needs to occur at the beginning of every work relationship (and also with every personal relationship!). The “deception dance” we often engage in when we try to entice someone to either hire us or work for us that hides realistic expectations and disguises limitations only means the relationship is destined to disappoint as reality sets in and we discover our expectations are not going to be met and our limitations reveal themselves. Better to be honest at the beginning of the working relationship and eliminate the angst that comes from being in a bad relationship. 

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