The self-fulfilling prophecy refers to the idea that when someone creates a belief in something that is not yet true, and expects something with certainty, it will become true. With people, it suggests that as we communicate our expectations, they will conform and deliver the appropriate results.
When working with people, this is critical. When you express a lack of confidence in someone, it is returned with mediocrity, however if you believe in them and expect them to do well, research has shown that they will live up to that expectation.
What we expect, all too often, is exactly what we get.
The four key principles of the self-fulfilling prophecy:
- We form certain expectations, or beliefs, of people or events based on our own perceptions and experiences
- We communicate those expectations through our behaviors in a way that we would not have done without the belief
- People generally respond by adjusting their behavior to match
- The result is that the original expectation becomes reality
Based on these principles, we can conclude that the expectations leaders place on their team determines the quality of the teams’ output. A study of 100 self-made millionaires has shown that the most common characteristic in the group was the desire and ability to see the good in others. They were people builders, not critics. They empowered and supported their team to be their very best through positive means.
Believing the best in people is a critical piece of building successful viable relationships.