Acceptance = Expectations management + Sound judgement + Inclination to forgive

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In my previous post on acceptance, I have highlighted various ways that we can show acceptance of others as well as demonstrating how this can be achieved through the use of various scenarios. In this post, I am continuing with this discussion on acceptance, with emphasis on three crucial factors that will lead to the successful applications of acceptance. These three factors must exist for us to practise acceptance.

Let’s consider each one in turn, beginning with expectations management

To have expectations to do well by setting goals and working our way towards fulfilling them is great and should be encouraged. Doing so is being optimistic and knowing that we will do well even before our dreams become reality. It is giving ourselves hope that everything will turn out well before it materialises. And all of us need this dose of encouragement in any of our endeavours. Be it in the classroom when a teacher places hope in a student before he or she has any form of remarkable achievements or in the workplace where a boss places trust in the ability of his or her subordinates in the running of the daily operations of the organisation, positive expectations is required for success (be it the nurturing a student or a mentoring of an employee). Acceptance of others will naturally sets in for such instances.

However, trouble will brew if our expectations are unrealistic, not achievable, too low or too high. Thus, having unrealistic expectations is a psychological barrier that hinders  the practice of acceptance.  An ambitious parent scolding a child in a demeaning manner when he or she fails a test, a child who have low expectations of almost everything in life and ultimately not achieving much in his or her life, a demanding boss who asks for the sky and chastises any employees who do not meet his or her expectations and individuals who are often not accepting of others because they place high expectations on others are all relevant examples.

Being more accepting of others mean being more open to other’s perceptions and going with the flow. It means treating others as unique individuals. It means not imposing our values on others. Let’s consider a movie outing for instance. Consider a group of friends intending to catch a movie, of which someone by the name of Peter is among them. While Peter is eager to watch a particular movie, the rest are not for it since the movie reviews for the film is not good. If Peter is more accepting of the situation and hence more open to more movie titles while understanding that most of his peers have interest in other titles, he will go with the flow and watch another movie. While Peter may seem accommodating (a practice which some of us may not take to, especially for the individualists),  he is in fact demonstrating an acceptance of the friendships with his friends. Peter’s friends will sense this and most probably reciprocate his kind gesture at a later date. While it seems – on the surface- that Peter has relented to the requests of his peers (thus implying that he has low expectations about the movie outing), this is in fact not the case. Peter is merely adjusting his expectations according to the situation to achieve the optimal satisfaction level (for all of them) that can be achieved from this movie outing with his friends.

Another example demonstrates the importance of expectations management in relationships. Consider a scenario where an individual is looking for a spouse. While it is good to be more accepting of others, seeking a spouse requires an acceptance of another individual who will be living at close proximity with us for a lifetime. This is when we need to strike a delicate balance between being too accepting and being not accepting. If one is too accepting of others, we might settle for someone when it comes to marriage but lives to regret it over time when we realise that we can’t live with one whose lifestyle completely differs from our own. On the other hand, if one has high expectations and is not accepting of most people, the chances of finding a spouse are slim.

Thus we have to manage our expectations carefully in order to find fulfillment in our personal lives.

Then there is the factor of judgement. Most of us are often told not to judge others but to be more accepting. In reality, this is almost impossible. It’s been said that most of us thinks at a speed that is many more times faster than one could speak. Similarly, our mind makes judgement sooner than we can say “no, do not judge”. Managing judgement is a more tricky issue to resolve than managing expectations. This is because when it comes to expectations, we have a choice. But when it comes to judgement, we don’t.  Have you wondered why there are some people who take to us while the rest don’t? Have you ever wondered why we have stronger rapport with certain individuals? Have you wondered why we are more inclined to read articles by certain columnists?

This is because we judge. And we should.

This is because if we don’t, that’s naivety. We will be conned by fraudsters if we do not judge others. Sound businesses and investments stems from acute business sense, which is, in fact, sound judgement.  People are also able to avoid natural disaster by evacuating first, which is also a result of good foresight (of which judgment is a primary attribute).  Indeed, our well-being in life hinges on judgement.

The saying that “we can get every living person to like us” is a myth. And has always been a myth. We need to understand that the underlying causes of judging something or someone lies in our life experiences and prior knowledge. Since all of us have life experiences and coupled with the fact that our life experiences differ greatly from one another, all of us will make different judgement of others. The accuracy varies but the fact remains that we do judge others. And this explains the differences in receptivity of one person by different individuals.

However, understanding the cause/source /outcome of judgement is not enough. We need to take one step forward and ask ourselves if we can be accepting of someone after we have judged them. We cannot avoid judging others but we have a choice when it comes to accepting them as an individual. A sociable person is one who is more accepting of others. It will be good to bring in the concept of expectations here. Whether we accept someone after judging them is based on individuals’ expectations of someone. Thus, expectations management and sound judgement is related.  The combination of these two factors will determine the sociability of each individual.

Now, let’s move on to the last piece of the puzzle: forgiveness. No matter how good the combination of one’s expectations and judgement is, a relationship cannot last long term in the absence of forgiveness.  The fact that all of us make mistakes in our lives should shed some light on the importance of forgiveness when it comes to interpersonal communication but what’s more noteworthy is the fact that bearing grudges has a way of denting any form of relationships, no matter how robust and resilient they seem to be.  In fact, an increased inclination to forgive usually leads to a higher probability of us adjusting our expectations and reflecting on  our judgement (it is interesting to note that the reverse is also true), thus leading to an increased acceptance of others.

Hence the three factors of expectations management, sound judgement and an inclination to forgive work together to enhance interpersonal communications. I believe that charismatic individuals understand not only the essence and importance of these three concepts in communication but the dynamics that exist between them as well. 

Indeed, the individuals who understand the complexities that lie behind the equilibrium of acceptance understand charisma.

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