Faulty Expectations = Unfulfilled Results!
Wow, this is a broad topic worthy of a entire book for a more comprehensive analysis. Good news is that’s exactly what I’ll be doing by 2017. I’m committed to releasing this sage publication on the contractors / client dynamic sometime next year. But for now I’ll just touch on a few basic thoughts that may provide some clarity for those frustrated with the process of finding wisdom in the world of construction, and the projects we all “Want” to see be successful.
Let’s start out by looking at the definition of expectation first, “A strong belief that something will happen or that someone will achieve something in the near future.” Sound Great! But what if your own expectation is based on a false premise. Who is to blame if YOU, all by yourself, and without reasonable consideration of facts, were the one that conjured up this wonderfully, beautiful, self-serving erroneous expectation just because it felt sooooo… right to YOU? Well, if you were only expecting something better from yourself then you would only have yourself to blame, but all too often when “We” (yes, that includes me) inappropriately expect something of others, we now have someone else to blame. Truth is though… we ourselves are still the ones to blame. Humility is the only gate keeper of conscience here, so determine for yourself whether defending the honor of your ego will ever make it right with the other person.
Herb Cohen, master negotiator and best selling author on negotiating & selling, coined the phase “Win-Win” to describe the most favorable resolution when negotiating with others. Most of us, however, end up devolving into a verbal sparing match in hopes of achieving a “Win-Lose” outcome over our opponent; some will even say whatever it takes to avoid the dreaded “Lose-Win” nightmare of our egos. The real tragedy is that most of these self-serving, childish debates result in a “Lose-Lose” stalemate that prove to satisfy neither person’s interests. As an example, some have suggested and believe that everyone who goes to court is a loser… no matter which party the final judgment allegedly favors.
The operative word in this blog is “Expectation.” Are YOU starting to understand why it was written in the first place? Here’s a clue, this blog is not entitled “REASONABLE NEEDS of clients and contractors!” Ask yourself, “Am I reasonable?” Reasonableness in this case can be thought of from two different perspectives. First, is your point of view reasonable or is it selfishly demanding at the expense of others? Second, are you willing to truly listen to and consider the value of the other person’s reason and point of view or are you arrogantly dismissive?
Both Gandhi & Martin Luther King were resolved in their determination to see each of their own personal goals and dreams come to fruition, but never at the expense another person’s rights. In fact, if you were to carefully listen to any of the speeches they gave or took the time to survey their many writings, it should be easy to tell that these life long quests could only be won if all parties involved would agree on the mutual respect of one another. Both of these men were on a much larger global platform than any of us will likely ever know. In comparison, is it not far simpler for you & I then to come to a fair and reasonable “Win-Win” resolution when having to negotiate with only one another? Mastery over the behavior of first seeking to understand, then to be understood will often disarm a persons defensive posture. When this is earned, the possibility of a true “Win-Win” negotiating has begun.
Contractors should understand that the client NEEDS to feel trust in the professional knowledge, skill set and integrity of the contractors they are selecting, knowing that their building project is in the capable hands of someone who is respectful of both property and person, as well as being honorable to the agreed upon contract. I doubt any contractor would “Expect” anything less when they are in the position of consumer.
Clients should understand that contractors are not employees, charities, psychologists, teachers or mind readers. The contract is a business transaction. It is not reasonable to expect more quality, product, or service time for the same amount of money or less. It’s simple math. More “X” cost more money, otherwise it’s at the contractor’s expense. I doubt any client would be willing to work two weeks at their respective job for only one week’s pay.
On a personal note, I’ve been doing construction for decades. Clients with very little experience in the construction process often approach conversations with their contractors from a place of fear and insecurity. I’ve had to talk many clients off the ledge of unrealistic dark place their own minds took them to. I’ve also had to endure the presumptuousness of some clients who thought they knew as much as me after having been through or attempting one or two projects of their own. In addition, there have been countless times when I’ve had to repair work from other “Accomplished” contractors who don’t have enough self-respect to even look up the meaning of the term work ethic, proving that money is not what makes a person practice honor. Unfortunately, there will be times when it’s not possible to reason with those that are unreasonable. But for the most part, it’s better to listen and understand more than you talk to be heard. In my experience, the end result is not only much more harmonious for both parties, sometimes the resolution proves to exceed both parties expectations. Bet you weren’t expecting that?
Thanks for reading. I’m Thump’r with Blue Collar Builders