One afternoon, I went into a prospective client meeting. The night before, I’d stayed up preparing, thinking of all the possible questions that may be asked of me. I’d even done my research on the individual, their teams, their company, their interests and much more. You know what I mean?
Of course in the process, I’d played over and over again in my mind all the possible ways the meeting could conclude: You’re wonderful. You’re just what we need. I’d like you to meet our CEO today! I’d like you to introduce you to all my senior leaders who’ll be gagging for your support. and so on. In my mind’s eye, I walked out of the meeting with a smile, and on air. Oh how well it had gone. Oh how well had my preparation gone down. If only others would prepare the way I do – a slight bordering on self-adulation emerging.
Well the day came. I had the meeting. We shared ideas. We swapped notes. I shared my insights and considered learning. I was thought provoking, engaging and knowledgeable. I was interesting and interested. I could feel myself puffing up at the chest: “ this is good!” I said to myself. At the end of the meeting, the prospective client smiled, thanked me for my time and invited me to meet again in the future. They also offered to introduce me to others in their team for further exploratory discussions and concluded by inviting me to help myself to a coffee on the way out.
I was on the floor with disappointment. I felt my chest constrict. My palms started to sweat. How come? Why were my expectations not met? The problem is this: They had not read and learned my script! The one I wrote for them that outlined exactly how they should respond. In fact I had not remembered to send it in advance. I therefore went into a meeting with my own expectations – and very high they were – only to have them not be met by the other party who indeed was unaware of them and of course had not bought into them.
For reflection is this: How many times do we as people, go into situations whether professional or personal with expectations that have never before then been communicated? And in doing so, we run the risk of disappointment, subsequent sadness and even resentment of the other, because they had not behaved the way we wanted them to. It happens all the time in the relationships we have with others, and even I daresay, in relationships we have with our own selves. We too do not always read the script we’ve written for ourselves – e.g. I must go to the gym every day … and at the end of week, not even having gone once, we’re full of remorse and guilt.
The antedote to writing a script of any kind and in any situation is not to write one at all. We should have an open mind so that we can be truly and fully in the present. And in being present, we are not only able to listen to another with all of our being, we are also able to open ourselves much more to the miracles and possibilities no matter how faint they are in the moment and that are ready to emerge more strongly if only they were noticed.