A few years ago I had some friends over to the house and during the get-together a glass of red wine was dropped on a very plush, off-white living room carpet. When I had the carpet cleaning experts come out they assured me they could not only remove the stain, but that they could make every carpeted room in the house look and smell better.
After an investment of more than 200 dollars my house looked great. All of the carpets were cleaned and sanitized. However, there was one slight problem – the stain was still there, and to say I was disappointed was an understatement.
Committed to removing the stain I called in another expert who was referred by a friend and had a great reputation. When he arrived and I showed him the stain he immediately explained to me how difficult it would be to remove the stain and he wanted me to know that before he even unloaded his equipment to start the job. My expectations at that point were low; however, I told him to give it his best shot.
The fine line between happiness and disappointment can be our expectations.
In the first scenario I expected the stain to be removed. In the second I expected little or nothing. Those made me realize that in life the fine line between happiness and disappointment can be our expectations. If the expectation line set by ourselves or by others is placed incorrectly, frustration, disappointment, and, in many cases a rupture in the relationships you have with those around you, will occur – relationships that impact your life both personally and professionally. Set the bar reasonably and properly and good things can happen.
You see, once the expectation bar is set, everything above the bar results in happiness and everything below the bar results in disappointment. Calibrating your expectation bar, especially when it comes to the actions and behavior of others, is so important since so often we want from others more than they are ready, willing, and able to give, and almost certainly less than we expect. Unfortunately, many times our EXPECTATIONS are out of alignment.
When someone does something that is consistent with their values, talents, and abilities, it rarely matters. What does matter is what we expected. When they do what they always do, less than expected, we’re surprised? We measure what people do and how they act based on what we would do for them; a strategic error when setting proper expectations, since no two people are alike and everyone has a unique set of values and many times a different perspective.
In the carpet cleaning scenario above the second cleaner not only set my expectations appropriately by under promising, he over delivered with getting the stain out – a result that exceeded my expectations, making me very happy!