Clarify expectations


"When do you need it?"


These five words have been game-changing in my client interactions.


Here's how my brain used to work when I'd receive a client request: "Oh wow, one more item on my to-do list. They probably want this right away. Who can I assign it to? This person's schedule is full; that person doesn't have the skill set. I'll have to do it myself. But when? My day is already full. Well, I might as well do it right now, while I'm thinking about it. But I don't want the client to think I'm just sitting here waiting for her request...."


Now I write back and ask, "When do you need it?" So often the response is "By the end of the week would be great" or "Could I have it by next Wednesday?" They are expecting it a lot less quickly than I was going to jump through hoops to get it done. This allows me to delegate the task or put into a logical place on my schedule over the next few days.


If I don't ask the question and just do the work right away, not only do I negatively impact my own mood and schedule, I also set an expectation with my clients that they can expect an immediate response. It's up to me to change that expectation.


The same principles apply in personal life as well. If you are almost always immediately responsive to text messages, you're setting the expectation that people can expect an almost immediate response. If you want to change that expectation, respond less quickly. If you prefer people email rather than text, tell them that. If you have a policy of responding to emails within 24 hours, make that clear.


Feeling burdened or taken for granted? Maybe it's you, not them.


Clarify expectations.


Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

​© 2020 by Christin Smith Myers.

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"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

    - Henry David Thoreau