“I want to manage your expectations”

“I just want to manage your expectations.”

It sounds… like a considerate sentiment, doesn’t it?

You have, tucked away beneath layers of calloused spirit, your hopes. And dreams. You’ve found a way, you think, to express them, constructively. You seek to grow, recover, achieve, make progress — however it is that you’ve defined a goal.

But, after a period of time, sensing eagerness or ambition on your part, someone might casually offer to help “manage your expectations.”

Sounds harmless enough, I suppose. But lift the hood, and what exactly does it mean? Someone else wants to manage your expectations.

You have expectations — they may be reasonable. They may be unreasonable. They may be negotiable, reachable, out of reach — whatever, but… but they are your expectations.

I’m not sure if anyone has a right to manage my expectations. I’m not sure I’m particularly comfortable with that.

Sounds kind of okay nice on the surface, but beneath the surface kind of yucky-pandering-mind controlling.

Mind-fucking, even. Sorry. But, there it is. I said it.

Now, that doesn’t mean, and I’m not suggesting it does mean, that you need to exceed my expectations. Or that you even need to meet them. You don’t have to do that. You can, feel free, fall short of my expectations. I can deal with that. I’ll deal with that.

Just, please, don’t manage my expectations. Don’t even offer to.

Unless — hey, you don’t mind if I manage your dreams, do you? Just in case they don’t conform to what dreams ought to be. Or how about allowing me to manage your soul. You need a bit of help with that ‘un, don’t you?

When I expect something, it means that I’ve assessed a situation and determined what I consider to be a reasonable outcome. If I walk into a restaurant, my expectation is that I’ll enjoy a decent meal and service in exchange for payment. The waiter might walk over to my table and tell me the food sucks. Okay. Actionable information. He might say the food is fantastic. I figured he’d say that; nothing surprising about that one. Based on that, I might order more than I’d anticipated, but probably not. But if he tells me he wants to manage my expectations, I’m gone. My expectations are what they are. They’re mine. I know what I expect when I walk into a restaurant. The outcome will be what it is, regardless. If things fall short, my bad. I can respond/learn/move on accordingly.

The notion of having my expectations managed by someone else is meant, rather cynically, to be the ultimate sign of them caring for me. But it is, in fact, an insult and a personal invasion.

No one ought manage anyone else’s expectations. The phrase is a soul--diminishing existential slap in the face. It should be retired. Or, at the very least, countered, gently, with something along the lines of:

“No thanks; I’ll manage my own expectations.”

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