I subscribe to a weekly financial newspaper which arrives by post every Friday. When I checked my emails yesterday I found the publishers telling me my copy of Money Week might be delayed by a day because of a problem at the printing house. As I read on a learned that specifically it was a problem with one of their binding machines.
Reading this caused a little disappointment as I always look forward to my newspaper arriving. As I read on the news got better. Firstly there was an assurance that the maximum delay was one day and then I was reminded that I could read the latest edition online.
By the end of the email I was not even remotely disgruntled and was quite content to receive my newspaper a day late. I was thankful that they had let me know.
When the postman arrived and I collected the mail I was surprised and slightly elated to see this week's newspaper had been delivered. I hadn't been expecting it until the next day even though it actually arrived when it was due to arrive.
By dropping me that email and setting my expectations appropriately the company built my trust. And then when my copy arrived on time but ahead of my expectations I was happier than if they had said nothing and the newspaper had arrived as normal.
It is not just companies that can benefit from setting expectations. It smoothes the way in all relationships from family to business; from formal to casual.
Most friendship problems and relationship problems come about because someone's expectations were not met. This doesn't mean that the outcome was erroneous in some way but more often that the outcome was not communicated fully which led to false or misaligned expectations. If we are clear about our intentions, our expectations and those of the other parties then there is little room for disappointment and disagreement.
Clearly communicate your intentions and what the expectations should reasonably be and then watch as your relationships become smoother, more harmonious and more productive.