It’s easy to confuse promises and expectations. In a way, both are quite similar as they link with something to be expected and involve trust.
A promise is a statement someone made. It is explicit and has been given by one person or entity to another. Sometimes it exists in written form and can also be legally binding. Trust in this case is linked to the person or entity making the promise and based on the experience with them.
An expectation is based on experience and the assumption that consistency exists. It is an assumption that something will happen according to our expectations. In some cases, we might not even be aware anymore of the expectation, for example when it is one that we can recharge a phone by plugging it in. In other cases, we might have become warry of our own expectations when we’ve rarely seen them come true, for example when it comes to the implementation of some political decisions.
What is confusing with both, is that both might come true as well as fail.
Expectations can exist without promises, while promises are built on expectations.
It is to learn if we can count on the result that we have to distinguish between a promise and an expectation.
In the case of a promise, our work is to figure out, if there has been progress on achieving the result.
If there is no clear statement describing a promise, we are dealing with an expectation.
In that case, the work is to figure out if there is a clear agreement. If there is none the work done has been relying on an implicit promise. Instead of continuing to rely on it, it is time to transform the existing expectation into a promise the other one can hold up to.