Expectations

Jeff Richards

Working at any business and interacting with clients, it’s always imperative that we agree on expectations. This isn’t always easy since we all have our own wishes and often preconceived ideas or beliefs. In order to please a client, we have to know what their expectations are, and align those with ours. This is the only way the outcome for all involved will be positive.

Expectations can be a funny thing. Specifically, the origins of them. I’m guessing the two most common ways that expectations are formed is from either what you’ve previously learned or experienced…first-hand, or from what you’ve been told or overheard. I don’t think expectations can be right or wrong, but it sure can go sideways in the development stages.

I’ve experienced this numerous times throughout my life, but one clear example has revealed itself to me in the last few years. We have seen a steady increase of Amish in our area over the past 15 years or so. The Amish have become a part of our community and have integrated themselves into our region (to the extent that Amish ‘integrate’). To most of us, the Amish are a mysterious enigma… and since they are a quiet, humble group of people, they don’t exactly make lots of claims about their culture. Those ‘expectations’ are largely left for us to create (or should I say fabricate).

Let’s see, from my ‘general’ experience, the Amish are hard-working, humble, quiet and polite. That’s about all I can profess to know and reasonably expect. And we here at IronGate have three Amish businesses as clients… and I’ve personally had construction projects with them as well. So, for me, my expectations stop there. But from other ‘English’ people in our community (that may or may not have more experience than me), Amish are supposed to be religious, good craftsmen, good cooks, non-smokers, anti-electricity, etc…

When expectations don’t align with reality, people get upset. Whether our designs didn’t match the clients wishes, or we see an Amish guy cheating on the electricity “rule”… we get angst in our pants. Again, the expectations aren’t the problem, but how or why they came to be and how reasonable they are. I’ve never heard the Amish as a group, or individually, claim to be any of the things we expect them to be. Nevertheless, we somehow feel cheated if we see Amos using electricity or if Martha bakes a cream horn that we feel isn’t up to snuff. We’ll say, “I thought the Amish we’re supposed to be good bakers”.

Based on what?

Maybe it’s not so important to have our expectations align with others. Perhaps it’s more important to have our expectations align with reason.

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