The things we/I live without

February 25, 2008

Might Be a Quarterlife Crisis

February 25, 2008

Failure to manage the client’s expectations

February 25, 2008
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There’s this term you hear frequently in my line of work. To “manage the client’s expectations.” It’s always, “We’ve got to manage the client’s expectations” or “that could get dangerous if we don’t manage the client’s expectations” and sometimes, “she’s very good at managing the client’s expectations.”

It’s basically the business equivalent of sitting the kids down and telling them they’re only getting one souvenir each at Disney World. They way they don’t throw a temper tantrum on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom when you tell them they have to choose between the Cinderella crown the the Mickey ears. In my world it means explaining as clearly as possible to X Sponsor that while we will make our best efforts for X Celebrity to attend their event, the Festival is a busy time and, despite our belief in the importance of X Event, we cannot guarantee X Celebrity will be there. It’s a gentle crushing of hopes in an effort to prevent them from whining but you prooooomised in the form of a law suit.

I realized, after hearing the term for the umpteenth time last week, that I often have zero ability to manage my own expectations. My hopes get up – very up. Not to say I wear permanent rose-colored glasses, but if I really believe in and want it – my hopes cannot be talked into submission. If managing client expectations is about explaining realistic scenarios to prepare for possible disappointing realities then the same could/should easily apply to personal matters.

Run all possible scenarios, remind yourself of the chances, and proceed with a realistic approach. Get excited, sure, but try not to spend the money before it’s earned or, say, plan the wedding on the third date. I’m good with the scenario-running, but then it gets to chances (which is math) and realistic approach (which is not fun) and I’m putty. We’ll have a 12 piece band and the colors will be silver and gold…

It’s like that recent study that determined the Danes are the happiest people on earth. Apparently it’s not because they can claim ½ of Jessica Alba. It’s just low expectations. In the words of one of the head researchers, “year after year we’re just happy that things didn’t go as badly as we’d feared.” Contentedness as happiness. It’s hard to argue with.

Yes there are marked differences between a giddy belief that your idea for a novel will sell and being content with ½ a year of sunlight. It’s not that the Danes are realists and I’m naïve. I always know there’s a chance things won’t work out. I get that life is a random series of occurrences. It’s just all that knowledge has can in no way stop me from dancing around my bedroom to Tina Turner with a High School Musical grin because I’m pretty sure he likes me back.

Is it dangerous? Sometimes. The higher the hopes the further the fall. But try naming five great things to come out of Denmark in the past…ever. I googled and got Beowulf, Helena Christenson, and Hans Christian Anderson. That’s three one of which is a fictional talking beast, and another the man who wrote the most famous fairy tales of our time. And Helena Christenson actually grew up in London.

I think I’ll stick with reckless hope — and Tina.

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