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Sandy Reynolds: Disappoint More People

In this episode:

Sandy and I talk about that emotion that we want to avoid feeling or creating that feeling in others – Disappointment.

And yet, as you’ll hear, there can be benefits when you lean into the idea of disappointing more people.

In this episode, we discuss:

· The connection between expectations, reality and disappointment

· The challenges created when we focus on avoiding disappointment

· Shifting your mindset about handling unmet expectations and the importance we place on them

· How exercising the disappointment muscle can actually build resilience

· People pleasing, and three areas where people pleasers tend to struggle

· Ways to step out of people pleasing and work with boundaries and disappointment

Listen to the Podcast Now

Guest bio:

Sandy Reynolds prefers the term learning catalyst to describe what she does. She has worked globally helping organizations strengthen their performance by developing talent and getting clear on their organizational values and strategy. Sandy is currently working on a book called Disappoint More People. As a chronic people-pleaser who has worried about what other people think for longer than she wants to admit, she is on a mission to get people to live aligned with their values.

Sandy has over 20 years experience in some of Canada’s top organizations, has an MA in Leadership and is a Certified MBTI practitioner.

Previous Clients include: Air Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rotman College, St. Michael’s Hospital, World Vision and Opportunity International, to name a few.



Intro (00:00):

Welcome to Seniors' Care Matters, part of the Qod Pod Network. Each week, Seniors' Care Matters provides inspiring interviews and insights to help you lead, connect and engage with your teams and your residents' families. We focus on ways to enhance your leadership approach and presence with practical tips to build a relational culture and create breakthrough results. And now here's your host for Seniors' Care Matters. Deborah Bakti.

Deb (00:30):

We are going to be talking about the topic of disappointment today, and a really interesting perspective on leaning into and developing your disappointment muscle. Are you a people pleaser? Like, do you like everyone to be happy and to get along? And do you want them to like you? I suspect more of us than we like to admit fall under the people pleaser camp. For some of us, it was ingrained in us at a very young age to be nice and to be likable. Don't rock the boat. Don't upset people. Do your best and get along with everyone. And yet, sometimes that people pleasing gene can lead to resentment and frustration and disappointment - emotions that are typically seen as bad or negative. Undesirable. Looking at this emotion and experience of disappointment, I think it's one that we can tend to have a bit of that allergic reaction to, you know, we just, we want to avoid it at all costs. And there are two sides of disappointment.

Deb (01:37):

There's how it feels when we get disappointed. When something that we were really hoping for doesn't happen like a second date or someone forgetting our birthday or a job promotion or a new job that you really hoped that you were going

to land. The other side of disappointment is how it feels for us when we disappoint someone else. Like when we cancel plans that we know that the other person was really looking forward to or missing a deadline that your boss was expecting to be met or telling a family member that their visit with their loved one needs to be rescheduled. I think in most businesses that value customer service, that customer service experience, there can be a tendency to over promise and to try to bend over backwards to make something work. Even though, you know, in your gut, that you may be setting yourself up for failure and creating disappointment. We're back to that people pleasing. And part of that is that desire to avoid conflict. In today's interview with Sandy Reynolds, we talk about this interplay with expectations, reality, and disappointment. Her mantra, disappoint more people is something that can sound almost harsh or heartless. And as you'll hear, it's not in a, Oh, I can't wait to disappoint more people today. It's a healthy approach to maintaining value, integrity, and personal boundaries where we don't have to be everything good and shiny all the time.

Deb (03:20):

I think that there's a bit of an art to this idea of embracing disappointment. Rather than do whatever it takes to avoid it at all costs, there's something empowering and almost refreshing with this way of looking at disappointment. In fact, it can be a pathway to building resilience, something that is constantly talked about as a leadership attribute and a desired competency to have. I think you'll find this conversation quite interesting, and it can have you looking at disappointing more people as an opportunity for personal growth while people pleasing less. I hope you enjoy.

QodPod (04:05):

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Deb (04:21):

I'm thrilled to have Sandy Reynolds on as a guest for today's episode. Let me tell you a bit about Sandy. Sandy prefers the term learning catalyst to describe what she does. She's worked globally, helping organizations strengthen their performance by developing talent and getting clear on their organizational values and strategy. Sandy's currently working on a book called Disappoint More People. As a chronic people pleaser who's worried about what other people think for longer than she wants to admit, she is on a mission to get people to live aligned with their values. Sandy, welcome to our show.

Sandy (04:59):

Deborah thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to this conversation today.

Deb (05:04):

Well, I have as well, because when you first told me about the title of your book Disappoint More People, of course it creates this curiosity gap. What do you mean disappoint more people that sounds like how do you do that? Why would you want to do that? And as I learned more and more about your philosophy and approach with this, I knew that I had to have you on the show because in seniors care, a lot of people, they're caregivers, and some would probably describe themselves as people pleasers when it comes to what their management with their coworkers and with their families. So let's start by just telling us a bit more about disappoint more people and what you mean by that.

Sandy (05:46):

Okay. So for me, the whole journey started with people pleasing when I was doing my master's degree several years ago, and we did a values assessment and came back me that I had a potentially limiting value of wanting to be liked. And I started, I was surprised and I started digging into it a little more and doing some reading and reflecting on how I am in work and in other relationships in my life. And I realized that I made a lot of decisions to make other people comfortable and that I was often thinking about not what I wanted, but what other people wanted and how I could make life easier for them. And that's not a bad thing. It can be a very helpful thing. It can also be a very attractive quality in a friend or in a family member or a coworker. I mean, everybody likes the person that they can pass things onto, but there's a real toll that it takes on a person when there are people pleaser. And I started to realize that I needed to learn to get comfortable disappointing people, because as long as my focus was on how I could make other people comfortable, how I could have people like me, because I was making choices that made them happy. I was not making choices that were taking me where I wanted to go in my life.

Deb (07:21):

Well, and it's interesting, just the word disappointment tends to be a bit of a trigger for people. And I mean, I know my kids would say, they'd rather that I'm angry with them then to be disappointed in them, even though that emotion of disappointment doesn't have the same energy as anger. And, I use, I refer to a formula that I read from Chip Conley's book Emotional Equations, where he says disappointment equals expectations minus reality. But I still share this in workshops and in speeches. And I realized after speaking to you about your approach to it is that I was looking at disappointment as being something that you should avoid at all costs. Like figure out what the expectations are and the reality and adjust them. And yes, there's lots of great opportunities for that. And sometimes disappointment is just unavoidable.

Sandy (08:17):

Yes, exactly. I mean, I think we've all been disappointed the way 2020's been playing out. So it's pretty unavoidable and it is like, I like I do like that equation and I think disappointment has to do with expectations for sure. And that we have that gap where we our reality bumps up against our expectation and we feel disappointed. I think the challenge is when we try to individually be the buffer in there. So we know that reality is going to be a disappointment. So we step in and try to make sure, or somehow cushion people from being disappointed by contorting ourselves into being something that will make life easier for other people and disappointment is going to happen. We all have expectations that are not going to be met all the time.

Sandy (09:16):

And it's, it's okay to have expectations. I've actually been writing a little bit this week about the different about standards and expectations. And, I think sometimes we have these standards and those standards are important, but we then put something on top of those standards and, and try to elevate our standards to a place that is, makes it very difficult for us to meet those standards.

Deb (09:45):

And whether they're self-imposed standards or standards that we think other people we are interpreting, that's what they're expecting from us. And sometimes that comes from just assumption. Or our own view of how we look at the world. But I think sometimes we impose those expectations on ourselves without really validating them.

Sandy (10:08):

Yeah. I agree completely with that. And it's a funny thing when we start getting into a conversation around expectations. People can be really quite pleased with their high expectations, but then they're the ones who feel disappointed a lot as well. And I think about having realistic expectations and agreed upon and understood and communicated expectations. So disappointing people, I think is a way for me to get people thinking about this conversation and recognizing how are you going to handle it when you don't live up to someone's expectations? And is your, is it always that important to live up to expectations? Or is there a time when you need to just say, I'm sorry, it didn't work out the way we had hoped.

Deb (11:02):

And as I understand your philosophy around disappoint more people - isn't that you wake up in the morning and say, okay, who can I disappoint the most today? It is to be open to knowing that you are likely going to disappoint more people if you are true to your values, your beliefs, what your expectations of the situation are. And I think when it comes to providing care and customer service, sometimes we end up over promising and then we pay the price for that when things don't turn out as they had expected it too.

Sandy (11:42):

And you have to, I think people have to be willing to realize that you can't please everyone. And yeah, you're not going to get up in the morning and say, I'm going to see how many people I can disappoint today at work. But when you do disappoint people, you have to develop some resilience and some understanding that that's okay and you've done what you can do.

Deb (12:09):

You continue to adapt and adjust with all the pandemic policies and protocols. With admitting and moving in new residents, you're dealing with limitations in building a connection and relationships with your new residents' families. If you're looking for powerful ways to connect and build trust with your new families during COVID-19, please head over to my website at www.deborahbakti.com or click the link in the show notes and I'll send you 10 great ideas that you can implement immediately to create trust and connection with your families.

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Deb (13:12):

It would be great to hear a bit more from you Sandy, about the areas in work, where people pleasers tend to really struggle, because I suspect that there are some patterns there. And so for listeners who may be thinking gee, am I a people pleaser, or they know they're a people pleaser, how can you support them with that?

Sandy (13:32):

I think there's several areas that I've identified from my work and experience where I've struggled and where I watch people struggle. And so, I'll just walk you through some of them and we can have a conversation about it. One is around the area of competency. And I think that when we don't feel competent in ourselves and our skills or our experience, we can tend to default to other people. And we don't say what we might know is true in a situation because we don't have the experience and we don't trust ourselves. So competency is a big one I've seen. And people will often in team meetings, not say something. They won't speak up if they feel like they have less experience or less knowledge than other people, even though what they have to say could be really important and could really help the whole team.

Deb (14:30):

So if they're in that people pleasing mindset, are they not wanting to speak up because they are feeling like they don't have the right answer. They're afraid to ask for clarification?

Sandy (14:45):

Yeah. That can be a part of it. I think also in workplace cultures, some of the organizations that I've a part of, there can be a big heavy weight put on seniority and experience. And so people who have been there long, we often hear that even when I used to do onboarding in an organization, we'd have everybody go around and talk about how long or in a, not even an onboarding, just in a training situation - how long have you been at the organization? And there's within that an assumption that you've been there a long time. So you know more about a situation than someone who's just starting. And so someone with less experience will defer because they will feel like they don't have the right or the experience to speak up. The problem with that is when we're in a situation that's new in an organization. So say a new software system has been introduced or a new way to let families into a home or a new screening, or there's just so many new things right now with a pandemic in terms of operations. And I would imagine in long term care, the way that people are needing to learn new ways to do everything, it doesn't matter if you've been there 15 years. If you've been there one week, you've had just as much experience with that system as someone who's been there 15 years. And yet you still feel like you need to defer to other people.

Deb (16:15):

Got it. Okay. Thanks for clarifying.

Sandy (16:19):

So another one, and I think that just, you were touching on it a little bit. There is conflict avoidance. So people pleasers do not like conflict. So they often will say things to avoid conflict. So they'll go along with things. They won't point things out that might need to be improved or changed. They won't say something to a coworker. If they think there's going to be a conflict that comes out of it. So if you have a real aversion to conflict and you like to avoid it at all costs, you can easily fall into some of these patterns around disappointing people and around putting the emphasis on people pleasing and avoiding conflict.

Deb (17:08):

Yeah. I think that probably is a big one.

Sandy (17:12):

It is. And I think some of these all seem to overlap a little bit for me, capacity is another one. And I think that we've all had the experience where you see something that needs to be done and your at a team meeting like a weekly meeting where you're talking about what needs to happen and you don't want to be the person that says, Oh, this room really needs to be cleaned out. It's a mess. We need someone to take stock or do inventory or find out what's going on over here. Because you know, if you say something, there's a chance that you'll now have that on your... Somebody say, well, that's a great idea, Deborah, could you make sure that gets done?

Deb (17:53):

That's why people avoid eye contact and meetings as somebody's making a suggestion. We should really get this room organized. So when we start looking down at our shoes!

Sandy (18:02):

Right, because most people have enough to do. And so some of these things are just so rather than say, I can't do it, we just don't say it needs to be done at all. So it never even gets put out there as something that needs to be done. Or we don't want our coworkers to roll their eyes in a meeting. Like, thanks. Now we're going to have to do this too. So, capacity's one. I think that there's the whole idea of career limitations for people it's workplace cultures. We like people who are easy to get along with who don't rock the boat, who don't ask questions. I remember being in on a team and there was that one person and it'd be like, so close to the meeting wrapping up. And then they'd ask a question and everybody would kind of roll their eyes.

Sandy (18:59):

And you know, you just feel the air sucked out of the room and that for people pleasers, we don't want to be that person. We want to be liked, but there are times when we need to disappoint people and be willing to let people have those feelings about, we almost got out of here, but Sandy asked a question and we can also feel like it will limit our career. Like people will label us as that person who's hard to work with or there's a whole thing about asking your manager and challenging someone who is in a position above you or bringing something to their attention. So career limiting moves we talk a lot about, and that's something that shows up for people pleasers. We just are really worried about what other people think.

Deb (19:53):

And I think that describing that person, I think it's also picking your spots because there are people who do that all the time and it may not necessarily be adding value to the conversation for people pleasers, just to say, you know, I feel uncomfortable now, I'm going to put my hand up and stick my neck out and say this, but I really feel this is an important piece that we need to identify and deal with. Then it becomes more situational versus this is who you have to be all the time.

Sandy (20:25):

Yes. I agree completely with that. Most people pleasers are never going to become that person. Like I'm trying to move people into being willing to feel uncomfortable. I'm not trying to get people all the way over to being that person who challenges everything everyone says. For the people I work with, and honestly, I think people pleasing is a bigger problem at work than anyone ever imagined. We're all very concerned about harmony in the workplace and getting along with other people and making life as easy as we can for each other. And it can be a detriment to the organization.

Deb (21:05):

And as you're describing that, I think about that relationship with staff and family members. And particularly now it's even more intensified because of restricted visitation. But when I work with clients who are having a challenging time with we'll call them a passionate family and they just can't seem to get to resolution. I think some of it is the conflict avoidance. Some of it is perhaps just capacity, right? You're so busy. And to get sidelined with a family member wanting to talk about some of the details of care, where you're dealing with other more significant things. And it can really create the situation where staff are setting themselves up for failure because they are trying to provide all the right answers or maybe they're acquiescing on certain requests that they know probably is outside of the scope, but they do it anyway to try to shut that conflict down. And then you're setting a stage for even higher level of expectations and setting a bit of a precedent It just, it makes me think that part of if we're able to look out to what degree are we doing the people pleasing conflict avoidance, feeling that we're too busy to deal with this right now versus stepping back and being more thoughtful and strategic for a longer term solution. So to your point, you may have someone feeling disappointed. If you are able to communicate expectations, reality, align, understanding that it may not be exactly what they want to hear. You're starting to invest in that relationship that's going to be more grounded.

Sandy (22:48):

Yes, I agree totally. And when you were talking, I was thinking about one of the challenges for people pleasers is when there's multiple stakeholders in a situation. So you're, if you want everyone to feel happy about the resolution and you have your customers, you have your colleagues, you have the people, you know, other stakeholders that you're you'll know who these people are. I'm not sure who they are in your organization and your work. But when you're trying to please multiple stakeholders in a situation that creates a great deal of stress for someone who is a people pleaser, and wants to do the thing that makes everyone happy or everyone comfortable, and it's a tough place.

Deb (23:35):

And as you were describing that, I was thinking of a few of my clients who describe families, who, well, every family has their dysfunction, right? And so you've got different family members with having different wants and desires. And you've got one who's the POA and others who aren't, and then they bring that conflict or dysfunction into the home. And if you've got a family with five kids and they all want different things, if you're a people pleaser, there's no way you're going to be able to please all five of them.

Sandy (24:09):

Exactly. And so one of the things that people pleasers need to learn is how to have boundaries, how to say no, how to disappoint people and just say, these are the rules. This is, this is all we can do. And I know this is really tough and I know your situation's really hard and I can have empathy, which I know you talk a lot about. I can understand your perspective. I just can't do anything different than I'm doing.

Deb (24:44):

So for someone who may be listening and saying, yeah, I mean, I'm a people pleaser. I've always been that way. Well, how would you suggest that they start practicing disappointing more people?

Sandy (24:56):

I think you have to start somewhere for sure. I think it's a big thing to recognize that you are a people pleaser. I think whenever we're learning and growing in any area of our life, awareness is a big part of it. And just starting to pay attention. And often people pleasers feel it physically like a stress or an anxiety in their body. And I think recognizing when you want to, as you've already mentioned over promise or over-deliver, or agree to something that you know, is not probably going to happen, that's a good place to stop and say even if it's after the fact - What happened there., What was the thing that prompted me to make that promise or to go along with something that I know isn't reasonable and isn't going to probably happen and is going to create down the road, the disappointment that I'm trying to avoid in the moment and start to really pay attention to that and then get comfortable disappointing more people. And just somehow for me, just realizing this might disappoint you - even just saying that to someone - I know this is going to be disappointing and I'm sorry, we can't do that right - away is approaching it with empathy. It's approaching it with that human touch and saying, it isn't what you want to hear. And I think it's better to take the hit at the front end, then let it go and promise something. And then people you've created an expectation for people. And then they are really disappointed.

Deb (26:44):

Good point. So with just a couple of minutes left Sandy. I know that you have been a family member with your dad having lived in long term care. And what words of encouragement would you like to share with people who work in the senior's care sector?

Sandy (27:03):

I, first of all, my hats off to all the people who work with our aging parents and family members, because it's really, it's really challenging. And I know that you're not working with them or seeing them when they were in their prime and when they were at their best. And my dad had Lewy body dementia. And that's what was the situation that ended him in long term care. And I was always very grateful for just the smiling faces when I came in and someone who just knew my name and said, hello, it didn't have to be a big deal. It was wonderful when someone told us a little story about something my dad did or something that they had noticed in him, whether it was at a craft time or at a meal or whatever. My dad had a great sense of humor and he liked to laugh. And there were a couple of workers who really would joke around with him. And I know that made his day to be able to laugh because that was important to him. So yeah, I've just that's been very, that was very meaningful for us as a family member.

Deb (28:17):

And to me that's about those little moments that matter. So thank you. I'm sure that there'll be listeners who will want to connect with you Sandy, where can they find you?

Sandy (28:28):

So I'm at www.sandyreynolds.com and I have a freebie there for people who are listening, who struggle with people pleasing and it doesn't just have to be at work. It can be anywhere in your life. And it's five ways to disappoint more people. And it's a five series, a five email course that people can sign up and get over a week. It gets delivered to your inbox and it gives you some tips and strategies for getting comfortable disappointing more people. Deb (28:57):

Awesome. Thank you so much, Sandy.

Sandy (28:59):

Thank you.

Outro (29:06):

Thanks so much for listening to Seniors' Care Matters. Part of the Qod Pod Network. For more information on today's episode, please check out our show notes and visit www.deborahbakti.com. Join us next week for another great episode of Seniors' Care Matters.

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