I find it very interesting that a lot of my topics for the podcast or a blog post or a social media post, come from the most interesting places. On the episode today, I'm going to be talking to you about managing expectations. And the idea stemmed from a call I had with a prospective client yesterday, that was having trouble with expectations. And as we wrapped up the call, I said, Hey, thanks for giving me an idea for a podcast episode. And this person happens to listen to the podcast every day. I won't say his name, but he knows who he is. So thank you for the idea.
Let's talk about managing expectations. If you don't listen to the whole episode, remember this: if you don't have expectations, you can't manage the expectations. That's really important. Expectations are critical. They serve both you and your clients, and your prospects and your friends and your family. Most people, if they have expectations, they have them all up in their head. They haven't told anybody what their expectations are. And I want you to think about that. Do you have expectations that are in your head? That you've never let anybody know? And when they don't meet your expectations, you get upset? Does that make sense to you? Are you like? Yeah, that's, yeah, that's me. Huh. We all do it. So you're not alone. But I want to give you some ideas about setting expectations for every human being that you deal with on a regular basis. And even if you don't deal with them on a regular basis.
Now, first of all, let's do the easy one first. The easiest expectations to set first: those who are new customers, new family members, new friends, new acquaintances, new colleagues. These are the easiest people to set expectations for because they don't have a history with you. So when you say, Here are my expectations. They go, Okay. Because they don't go, Wait a minute. Last week you did this. Or, Last year you did this. So those are the easiest groups to set the expectations for.
And then we have the other group, which is everybody else. These are your current customers, your current family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. These are people which you, in all likelihood never set any expectations for, and so when you start setting expectations, they're going to go, Whoa, whoa, timeout. What are you doing right now? Why are you being such a jerk? Why are you being such a dunderhead?
And you're like, Well, I listened to this podcast, (you can blame me, it's all right, blame me, I've got big shoulders) and I need to start setting expectations. So let's get down into the dirt. Let's let's talk about studying expectation. And I'm going to use an example that you're an entrepreneur. The reason why is most of my listeners are entrepreneurs, so I want to really laser focus on that.
So let's say people contact you via email, or DM. And when I say DM, I mean, text messaging, Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, iMessage, whatever, or Slack or any of the other DMs out there. And the problem is, if you don't set these expectations, people are going to assume and you know what they say about assuming, they're going to assume that when they email you, or when they send you a DM of some form, they're going to have their own expectations in their mind about how quickly you should reply. If you haven't set the expectations, they are going to set their own expectations.
Now, everybody looks at instant messaging, direct messaging, and they're like, Well, if I send Sharon a DM, well, I know she's just looking at her phone, in great anticipation of me DMing her. But Sharon's not doing that. You think she is, but she's not. And so part of the problem is, when people DM or text people today, they expect a very quick reply.
With email, the reply is a little longer, but it may only be an hour. And so what I want you to do, I want you to think about what expectations do you want to set for your clients and prospects? What I teach my clients is, you set these expectations early, like before they even sign on as a client. And you say, Listen, for email, please allow 48 to 72 hours, or 24 to 48 hours, whatever you pick, before you get a reply from me. If you email me on a Friday, allow up to 96 hours, because you probably don't work on the weekends. If they know this upfront, then they won't email you Monday at 10am and wonder why, at 11:01am on Monday, they haven't got a reply from you. You've already set the expectations that it's going to be 24, 48, 72, whatever you pick, this is what you pick.
Same with text messages, if you tell your clients, Hey, feel free to text me. Feel free to send me a slack message. Feel free to send me a DM on social media. However you work it. Say please allow 4 to 8 hours for my reply. Again, you get the pick those numbers. Don't take my 4 to 8 hours, you pick what works for you. And you tell them this is what's going to work. That's pretty easy to do because you get the create, unless you work for another company, in which case you might want to check with your employer, you get the pick.
But if you say you will reply to all email correspondence directly to you, within 48 to 72 hours, and you're caught up on your work and it's only been four hours, resist reaching out and replying. Because when you do, you may very well reset their expectations. They're not going to remember the expectations you set. They're going to remember, Wow, three hours. Now they're going to expect three hours or two hours or four hours, whatever the case may be. If you tell people, When you text me, expect a reply from me in four to six hours and you do it in 30 minutes, you are resetting their expectations for 30 minutes. You may say, Oh, this is just one of those times I was just in my email. You can't control what they're going to think. Now you have to go back and say, Well, listen, I'm replying quickly now. But remember, the expectation is this timeframe. That may work. They may ignore that. But set expectations and stick to your expectations.
I know this is really difficult to do in the age where the internet is on 24/7/365. You can get text messages any hour of the day on any day. Holidays, vacations. Resist, resist, resist. It's going to serve you and them in the long run. Because when you tell me you'll reply to me within 48 hours and you don't reply for two weeks, I get kind of upset. So it works the other way too. So whatever expectations you set, please honor them. I don't care what that number is. But please honor them. Don't do too early, don't do it late. That's why I want you to have a window. Don't say within 60 minutes, say within one to three hours. Give yourself a window in case you get a whole bunch of emails or if you get a whole bunch of DMs or your phone dies or your internet dies, your power dies or you get sick, people are understanding but you've got to give yourself a big enough window. I hope that makes sense to you.
Set expectations if you don't have expectations. Start with the easy ones first. Those are the people the new people coming on, who don't have a history with you. But the ones that do have a history with you, I don't care if their clients or prospects, family members, whatever, set expectations, not in your head, let them know. And then you're going to go through some turbulence. But then eventually people are going to go, Okay, I got it. Just remain true to your word. Don't say one thing and do something else. Whether that be early or later. Hope that makes sense to you, expectations are very key. Not only is it going to serve you better, and your clients and your prospects and your family and friends better, but it's going to lower your stress. Because if you get 17 emails you go, Oh, wait, that's right. I've got 48 hours to reply to these. So now it's going to reduce your stress. See, you're welcome.