Internal Causes Of Stress: Failing To Clarify Agreements & Expectations

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Failing to clarify agreements and expectationsDuring the holiday season of 2011, I wrote several blog posts about some of the internal causes of stress during the holidays.  Many of these internal causes also produce stress throughout the entire year.

So this week, I’m going to revisit three of those posts and discuss them from their more universal perspective.  Today, I want to focus on the action pattern Failing To Clarify Agreements & Expectations

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Failing To Clarify Agreements

When we don’t explicitly clarify our agreements with others, we create conditions for anger, disappointment, and resentment.  People may have differing understandings of what they have agreed to do.  They may also have differing understandings of what might be required of them in various situations.

Think about how many times you made an agreement with someone, but you failed to specify the terms of that agreement and this resulted in some type of stress.  Maybe you promised to do something for someone but didn’t nail down a specific due date or time.  Or maybe you purchased a service from someone and didn’t have a written agreement to specify all the major deliverables.

When we fail to clarify our agreements in these ways, we leave the door wide open for misunderstandings and conflicts. 

Failing To Clarify Expectations

Expectations are common internal causes of stress for all human beings.  We frequently have expectations about how other people are going to (or should) behave, but often these expectations are built upon our own values and standards and therefore they may not be equally shared by others.

This is why clarifying expectations with regard to your working and personal relationships is an important stress-relieving skill.

Failing to take these sometimes simple actions—clarifying agreements and expectations—is what I refer to as internal causes of stress.  They are causes that result entirely from us, and therefore they are causes that are always within our direct personal control.

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