Communication forms the backbone of every business and relationship. Without communication, there is no means of trust, expectation, or execution. Communication is mandatory for any successful business or partnership to continue. Unfortunately, most Mastermind leaders talk... but they don’t communicate what they actually mean.
In the book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey shares a story about a miscommunication between his wife and his daughter. Stephen's wife, Jeri, told their 16 year old daughter that she wasn’t allowed to go out with her friends that night unless she cleaned her room and her bathroom.
Later, after their daughter had left for a dance, Jeri checked her room and bathroom and exclaimed, “McKinlee is grounded! She broke a commitment!” upon realizing the rooms weren’t clean. Stephen then proceeded to call McKinlee to tell her she had to come home and clean her room and the bathroom.
McKinlee insisted that she did clean the rooms, to which Stephen replied, “Well, you didn’t do a very good job of it.” McKinlee told him that she cleaned them like she always does, and that was when Stephen realized the expectations simply weren’t clear. To his daughter, she was being honorable.
McKinlee did what she thought her mom had asked her to do. To Jeri, however, the expectations weren’t met. Further processing the situation, Stephen realized that McKinlee’s standard of “clean” and Jeris’ standard of “clean” were different. There were no clear defining expectations around what “clean your room and bathroom” meant.
This happens quite frequently in our communication with others. We say one thing, but it means something totally different to them. When trying to communicate our expectations, we have to be concise and direct.
Check out The Mastermind Playbook for other ways to enhance your communication skills and clarify expectations with others.
Clarifying expectations is to share a vision and agreement about what is to be done up front. People rarely pay enough attention to this behavior’s value. This is the behavior of prevention because if you address expectations before the task, you’ll avoid heartaches and headaches later on. However, if you don’t address these expectations, you’ll have trust issues later on.
Think about your own experiences. Have you ever asked your spouse to do the dishes or vacuum and then felt frustrated when it wasn’t done after work? There have been times when I’ve been frustrated with my spouse for not doing a chore, and when I communicated they responded with, “I was going to do them in the morning.”
I never communicated when. They thought the expectation was being met, but it wasn’t what I had in mind. People aren’t mind readers. Unless you give clear and concise instructions, they will always interpret your expectations differently than intended.
Agreements identify and clarify expectations. That’s why we put business agreements in writing, even if we trust each other. This actually helps preserve and enhance trust over time. More often than not, just shaking hands ends poorly. Why? Because there are never clarifications or expectations beyond that initial deal—there’s nothing to hold them accountable.
However, written agreements have their limitations and can not be a substitute for trust. Legal agreements have issues when they are written to be one-sided and with non-trusting language. In The Speed of Trust, Stephen says that the Chief Legal Officer of a Fortune 50 Company once told him, “You can’t draw up an agreement thick enough for people you don’t trust.”
In contrast, trust can be a powerful tool! In a study sponsored by the Warwick Business School in the U.K, researchers analyzed 1,200 outsourcing contracts over a 10-year span. They found that those outsourcing relationships that relied on trust as the primary driver outperformed the value of their contracts by 40%.
Having clear communication and trust can be revolutionary in your relationships, both business and personal. Be clear with the people you’re working with and you’ll reap the benefits of clear expectations.
Having clear expectations makes a huge difference professionally and personally. If you’re married, consider how much frustration or discontent comes as a result of unclear expectations regarding roles or responsibilities. Maybe you expect your spouse to take out the trash, handle finances, or do the laundry, but they expect you to do those tasks. This not only results in other various tasks incomplete, but can cause bickering or irritation.
When it comes to friendships or even a Mastermind group, these same rules apply. I know many people who get angry or worried when someone doesn’t text them back. They might be thinking, “Are they mad at me?” “Did I do something wrong?” or, “Are we friends anymore?” That’s because they have an expectation that their friends should text them back, when the recipient may not hold that same belief.
In a mastermind, it’s important to communicate your expectations with your group. As a leader, you may feel frustrated when someone doesn’t contribute as much as some other members or they don’t attend every call, but they may not think they’re doing anything wrong. You have to communicate your expectations.
Conflict often occurs because someone's expectations weren’t met, which is often a result of unclear expectations.
You have to be intentional to create expectations that result in a “win” for everyone involved. It takes the ability to organize the agreement, set up accountability, and follow through with precise execution. One way to establish if your communication has been clear is to ask questions. Some questions you can ask are:
The next time you have a project or assign tasks at home, create a clear agreement. If you’re in charge, encourage everyone to express their thoughts or concerns. Work to come up with an agreement that feels realistic and satisfactory for everyone involved. Maybe someone can only attend one meeting a week, your spouse wants you to take out the trash if they have to do the dishes, or your friend sends you an automated text that says they’ll respond when they’re not busy.
Whatever the resolution is, be clear on your expectations, and your trust will multiply. For more ways to improve your group’s accountability and trust, check out The Mastermind Playbook.