The Law of Managing Expectations

In the law, much of client relations involves babysitting and hand-holding. 

This is also known as managing expectations

Let me explain: I’m not making fun of people who need legal services, or their various crises. But thanks to television dramas, high-profile lawsuits,  and the generally litigious nature of American society, the legal profession has been glammed up to an undeserving degree. 

People, with some justification, view lawyers as magicians, able to use their magic words to get them whatever they want, usually easy money. But this is not the case. 

And so, at the outset, a lawyer needs to be ready to burst bubbles and set the tone so that ambitions aren’t unrealistically inflated. Don’t under-promise and over-deliver. Just be an adult and do your job. 

You see the parallels with life, don’t you? Whether it’s with your children, your spouse, or yourself, managing expectations is important. 

It’s difficult to get from point A to point B if you don’t even know what point A is

Think about your own life. How often have you toiled away at something, thinking you were so close to your goal, only to realize you had an overinflated sense of what was plausible?

 Notice how I didn’t say “possible.” Just about anything is possible. It’s the expected milestones along the way that get you down. 

This is one thing the Internet and social media are good for. You can get a lot of competing information about something and pass it through your own filter. 

Take fitness. There’s so much misinformation out there. But you can find the people telling you to be realistic about the rate of progress as what to expect. Those are the people likely telling you the truth. 

If somebody tells you a task is hard, but doable, IF you put in the work, they’re probably worth listening to. 

Easy fixes are rampant. And the road is littered with the wreckage of those who buy into them. 

It’s far better to be honest with yourself and others at the beginning and be pleasantly surprised later on than to tell others or yourself what you want to hear and set yourself up for failure. 

Magical thinking will only take you so far. Enthusiasm doesn’t last in perpetuity. Some days . . . some days you just want to lay down your arms and go home. 

But if you’ve been mentally prepared at the outset, you’ve managed your own expectations, you’ll keep on going. 

In short, everything is a grind. Don’t delude yourself. It’s hard. 

But it’s better to be pleasantly surprised later on than bitterly disappointed.

Dealing with clients brings this to mind. People think you’re a miracle worke. But you’re not. All you really are is just a guy who reads stuff and has better-than-average people- and time-management skills. 

Perhaps that’s another lesson one can learn from the law: How to manage expectations. For others and for yourself. 

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and @DaytimeRenegade

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