Category Archives: Managing Expectations

Managing Expectations: Book Club

I am a firm believer that you cannot expect people to give you what you want or live up to your expectations unless you clearly communicate what you want from them. Only then can you be upset when things don’t go your way. It’s also a good idea to assess what you expect from a situation, the likelihood the outcome will meet your expectations, and whether you want too much out of something or someone and should therefore adjust your expectations accordingly.

It is within this framework I think about my first ever book club meeting tomorrow night. In an effort to continue reading with a purpose and discussing literature now that I’m a graduate and not a lit major, I organized my very own book club. I told some friends and a few coworkers what book to read and when and where the club would meet. The book is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (I’ll get to it in a future post), and the meeting is tomorrow. I’m excited, but I’m also aware I need to assess my expectations and align them with reality.

In theory, the inaugural book club meeting should be the most highly attended. After the first meeting, some will decide it’s not their thing and others will have other obligations. In terms of a graph it will probably start to descend after the first meeting and find a steady holding point. Every now and then it will spike as a new person expresses interest or someone brings a friend. I am realizing it’s likely the three people with whom I spend the majority of my time will be my only book club attendees. They’re very loyal, so their varying degrees of interest will be trumped by their desire to be at something they know is important to me. I am very grateful to them for that, and I’m looking forward to spending my evening with them if they are the only people that show up.

This all sounds very pessimistic, so let me clarify: I will be thrilled whether or not more than three people show up. And I probably won’t give up on it after just one month even if everyone who responded to my invite doesn’t come. I’m not expecting it to fail; I simply refuse to be disappointed because reality doesn’t align with some grand vision in my head. If I have an idea of what to expect, anything above my expectations will be a bonus and everything that meets my expectations will be exactly what I want! Beyond attendance, we’ll see who actually read the book. This isn’t a class, and I don’t have any dictatorial ambitions, so if everyone hasn’t read it I’ll be okay. Whatever happens, it should be fun!

Note: I am still on allergy medication and heavily sedated. It is possible I won’t remember what the book is about or remember the next day who showed up. So to those coming to book club, let me manage your expectations by giving you this knowledge up front.

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