Mistake #2: Hoping for the Best


Are you wearing rose-colored glasses today? You may want to take those off long enough to get clear look at the plans you’re making for your own success.

Next in the series of 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make is the habit of hoping for the best. (Monday we talked about seeking validation.) This plays out when you fail to plan, rush negotiations, or overextend hoping to please colleagues and superiors so that they’ll just naturally want to look out for your best interests. I can’t find who first said it, but at the risk of quoting someone I don’t like, I’ll do it anyway: hope is not a strategy.

Do You Truly Understand Others’ Motives?

It’s never a good idea to assume that someone else–excuse my crudeness–gives a crap about what happens to you. Human nature being the way it is, unless this other person is your momma, that’s just not going to happen. I know I’ve been sucked into this trap a million times. You do good work and that should speak for itself. But it doesn’t. Everybody is the center of their own life. Plus, there is so much political maneuvering going on every day all around you that you’ll never fully comprehend it all. And you don’t have to.

Pick Your Battle and Create a Plan 

What you do need to do is figure out what exactly it is you would like to have happen and figure out who’s got a stake in it and what their motivations are. It might be a big sale, creating a business relationship, or getting the ridiculous lunch room rules at your kids’ school overturned. Whatever it is, nothing’s going to come out your way–at least not consistently–without a plan.

Meeting Before the Meeting

One of the things that Carol Spieckerman and Lisa Carver discuss in their presentation 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make is the concept of having a meeting before the meeting. Men do this all the time; it’s called golf. Think about situations where it would be beneficial to iron out some of the more important details with key players before you’re in a more public meeting. This needs to be part of your plan. 

Can We Just Get This Over With Already?

Harking back to the need for validation, some women rush through negotiations, taking away far less than they would if they had a tougher stomach for the process. We all need to learn to ask for more than what we think we can get. Remember too that the negotiation starts long before the negotiation. The other side will size you up from the get go. False modesty and rushing outcomes only send the message that you’re going to be easy to manipulate. The other big no-no we make if we’re hoping for the best: not walking away on our own terms. When you have a concrete plan in mind, you’re less likely to make this mistake.

Overextending, aka I Can Do That!

Over achieving is certainly not the exclusive domain of women. At first I didn’t understand what it had to do with hoping for the best. I thought it was more of a validation issue. But it’s all related. When we say yes too often, we create a baseline of accomplishment that is so high that we have to uber-achieve to get any recognition at all. And then when we don’t get the pats on the back we’re martyrs wondering why no one’s putting our needs first. Then we start taking it personally, but we’ll talk about that next week.

If you enjoyed this post, please read more Mistakes Men Don’t Make and join in the conversation.

Image Credit: Pink Sherbet, Flickr