Unrealistic Expectations. Why Hard Work Now Equals Less Stress Later

I hope that this post finds everyone doing well, being happy, healthy and exceedingly wealthy!  Great way to start a new post, right?  While my wish for everyone is wonderful, and it would be great if just wishing these things could make them happen, it would be quite unrealistic of me to expect that mere wishes were truths.  We are all imperfect creatures, living in an imperfect world, and nothing will ever be absolutely perfect for us in our lives.  We will certainly achieve some instances of success and happiness in our lives, but having an unrealistic expectation of our success and happiness simply sets us up for disappointment.  Lionel Shriver, American journalist and author, said it best when she said “Expectations are dangerous when they are both too high and uninformed.”

watching a sunset, dreaming about becoming a home inspector

There have been a multitude of business books written on the subject of setting proper expectations, and the majority of them focus on the fact that failure to define expectations is a common problem among business people.  Many of our clients come into a business transaction with a limited knowledge of what will actually happen.  In the case of a home inspection, the clients often have never had an inspection before, and have little or no idea of what actually takes place.  They may have received some guidance from friends, relatives, their agent or the internet, but this information is often inaccurate or misleading.

The client often comes into this business transaction with incorrect assumptions.  They may believe that the inspector is going to move all the furniture around in an attempt to fully investigate the home, or they may think that an inspection serves as an endless warranty, with the home inspector paying to fix anything that ever breaks in their home.  While these assumptions are far from the actual truth of a limited visual inspection, nevertheless, they are the ideal that the client holds in his mind regarding a home inspection.

We have all been guilty of having unrealistic expectations.  We always assume that something will be better than it is, or that we will get more than we are really paying for in a transaction.  We are programmed to always want more, and are often disappointed when our expectations are not met.  Whenever a client has unrealistic expectations about a service that they are purchasing, this sets the stage for problems to occur.

Looking at this from a different perspective (which, incidentally, is a practice that you should embrace early and often), the real problem may not lie with the client.  The problem may lie with the service provider, as they are the one who did not take the time to temper the client’s expectations, setting up proper boundaries regarding the transaction.

A common reason for our failure to define the situation to our clients, and therefore align their expectations with the actual expected outcome, is our own anxiety.  Being concise in our explanation of what will happen in a business transaction requires thought and foresight, and depends on us effectively communicating these ideas to our clients.  It is simply less stressful for us, as a business owner, to allow the client to have unrealistic expectations, hoping that no problems will develop in the future.

sitting down discussing the results of a home inspection

Unfortunately, this is an unrealistic expectation on our part.  Problems will happen, things will break, people will be disappointed.  By heading off these issues up front, and aligning our client’s expectations with reality, we can often lessen or eliminate the stress that occurs when the inevitable problems do happen.

Take the time, do the hard work of talking to your client and explaining what will and will not happen.  Align their expectations with reality, and then do your best to exceed those realistic expectations.  These simple steps will help you to become successful, and help keep you from being stressed out every day in your business.

I welcome all feedback (both positive and negative) on this post.
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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector

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