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The power of agreements vs expectations

LSCA vice president Indy Agnihotri sets out why he believes firmly in the power of agreements rather than relying on expectations, both in life and the workplace.

Indy Agnihotri

October 2019

There is a powerful distinction that is important in everyday life: expectations vs agreements


Most of us have expectations. Expectations about how people should act, expectations on what our lives should be like.

But often, many of these expectations are never met. We thus often become discouraged because of the outcome. We contemplate whether life is fair or not, if people can be trusted or if we can ever succeed. We expect a lot and often we are disappointed.


On the other hand, there are agreements. Agreements are like any ‘written contract’, forming the basis of how parties will act together and what they will do.

Agreements are ways to retrieve our power. To take responsibility for our life and state of mind. Agreements are mutually agreeable arrangements between the different parties in a situation. In an agreement, parties come together and establish what is desired and when it will be delivered. They allow clearer, transparent and more powerful communication.

Agreements are also great because they can be recreated, with better data and a more precise objective. If an expectation is not met, we blame the person or the entity. However, when an agreement proves insufficient, we can point out the flaws in the agreement, changing and updating them.

The workplace

When working with any team member, make clear, mutual written agreements; what does each party actually want and need? Do not rely on an ‘expectation’ in your head of what you expect from each other.

Make it explicit, very explicit.

And importantly check in constantly on this agreement.

Moving forward, where in life can you make agreements, not expectations?

Indy Agnihotri is vice president of the London Society of Chartered Accountants and a business coach consultant, strategic finance director and trainer.

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