Joy Journal

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The Dreaded “D” Word

How to Navigate FODO

As a kid, my parents rarely had to discipline me. Yes, I was a rule follower, but I was also terrified of disappointing them. If they even hinted at using the “D” word, I immediately ceased any bad behavior.
Many of us suffer from FODO—Fear Of Disappointing Others. I find it interesting because disappointment happens all the time. When was the last time you ordered a salad with dressing on the side and it came back slathered in ranch? Or you asked a family member to do a particular chore and had to keep asking them 1, 2 and 3 days later? Or exercised like crazy and saw no reductions on the scale? (Okay, maybe I am projecting a few of my recent disappointments.)
We could talk for hours about the fear part of this, so for today, I want to address the notion of disappointment in order to offer a little perspective that may assist in squelching the fear.
Disappointment is the emotion felt by the “nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” Therefore, we can nip disappointment in the bud if we do a better job of managing expectations—our own, as well as others. What that requires is proactive, intentional communication. Huh? Sounds simple but isn’t always so easy in practice.
First of all, we often make assumptions or don’t even inquire about what another person’s expectations might be. Then, as circumstances change, we fail to update the other person so as to adjust their expectations. Finally, when we know we haven’t met the expectations, we ignore it in hopes that they won’t react or deliver the message poorly because we feel guilty. 
If you think of disappointment avoidance as merely an exercise in expectation management, it may help to assuage the fear. Remember, people deal with bad news much better than they handle surprises.

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