Dealing with expectations can be a tricky thing, especially when the various parties involved have a differing set. This can occur for a variety of reasons, but the most basic cause is that expectations are not explicitly stated and agreed to by the various parties involved. When expectations are mismatched in a professional or social contract, friction can occur.
In many facets of our professional and personal lives, we face instances and situations where individuals' expectations are misaligned. While it may seem uncomfortable and at times even unnecessary to do so, I have found it is typically a good idea to do a "reality check" on expectations for any transactional interactions.
For example, one of my clients is working with a major consumer packaged goods company to evaluate a technology for a possible licensing relationship. Following our presentation to them, they agreed to dedicate personnel to conduct a comprehensive technical review. While generally aware of our timing expectations, the CPG representative did not commit to a specific timetable for the evaluation and or the go/no go decision making. So, rather than leave this as open ended, we explicitly stated our expectations for timing and decision making and asked our CPG partner to confirm whether or not they would be able to meet the required timing. Having affirmed this, we are now aligned on process and timing, which is enabling their review to proceed with clarity on both sides.
Unless expectations are explicitly stated and agreed to by the various stakeholders involved in a particular exchange, they are likely going to be subject to individual interpretation and assumptions...which we know can be fraught with risk. For any endeavor, it is wise to ensure that all parties involved have explicitly communicated their expectations of (their/others') roles, deliverables and timing. And as importantly, that the parties actively work to resolve expectations mismatches where these may exist. Doing this up-front will help prevent the need for damage control after-the-fact.