What Do Expectations and Transactions Have In Common?

August 09, 2018

What if we decided not to tell you?

You're expecting an answer. What if we didn't give it?

Besides getting irritated and probably just bouncing from this page, wouldn’t you also feel cheated or short-changed? Because we'd have offered something, then took it back. We'd have failed to fulfill our side of the bargain...and that’s precisely the point.

That’s what expectations and transactions have in common.

They’re both exchanges, or at least, they’re supposed to be.

We started this exchange by offering something: to answer a question. You bought into it by opening the article, and now it’s time to supply what we promised. That’s how expectations and transactions should work.

Even though they’re intangible, expectations are powerful—arguably more powerful than a tangible exchange because beneath every transaction are underlying expectations. Unless we believe (expect) certain things, we won’t participate in trade. We have to trust, for example, that the other party is reliable and that we’ll be better off for making the deal.

Expectations are also powerful because when we believe we’re going to get something, it’s as if we already have it. Even if it’s not in our hands, we count on it, feel entitled to it, and will feel deprived if we don’t get it. (If you have kids, you’ve definitely learned this lesson the hard way.)

That means when we’re creating expectations—whether with our kids or customers—we’d better be really darn accurate. Because people will take what we’ve offered, and they’ll take more, but they won’t take less—at least, not for long.

What we’re after in any transaction is a good trade.

A fair exchange. A mutual benefit. We want both parties to be better off afterwards. When it comes to expectations, we can ensure a mutual benefit as long as we’re being honest. That’s true whether the other person buys into your expectation or not.

At the very least, you’re both better informed. From a consumer standpoint, the other person now knows what you offer and whether it’s for them. If not, they can move along and not waste their time.

And from a producer standpoint, we’ve gained a valuable marketing insight. We know what we’ve offered doesn’t appeal to someone. At that point, we can either change what we’re offering, how we’re offering it (as long as we’re honest), or to whom we’re offering it.

Ultimately, finding the right things to trade and the right trading partners are the keys to success—and that’s why setting realistic expectations is the basis for a good transaction.

Thanks for taking part in this transaction. We hope it’s been valuable.

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