I’ve realized that people’s expectations largely govern how they treat us.
If there isn’t an expectation already set, providing value is likely to be met with positive feedback and appreciation. People who make educational videos are a good example; people aren’t necessarily expecting certain things from them.
Rather, they create a video and put it out for free. If it’s good, people find it get value from it – value they weren’t expecting to be provided before discovering it. As a result, they’re delighted and will often say so.
But what about the person who runs your apartment complex? They have a tough enough job just meeting expectations. When you pay your rent, you expect to get a safe, temperature controlled home. You expect your neighbors to be nice. You expect the complex pool to be open when you want to swim.
When one of those things isn’t fulfilled… well, that’s the only time you think about your apartment manager. And it’s in the context of your expectations not being fulfilled. People in a job like this basically have two states – being ignored, because they’ve done a good job and that’s the status quo, or getting negative feedback, because something has gone wrong.
It’s the same with people who work on our infrastructure. You’re not delighted when the roads you drive on are in good condition. That’s the norm. That’s how it’s supposed to be. But when there’s a big pothole…
As a result, I think it’s good to remember this:
Our default ways of treating people are based on our expectations of their jobs.
So many people work in areas where a good job goes unnoticed, and the only thing that ever does get noticed is a screw-up. Where the only feedback is negative. Where appreciation is almost nonexistent.
So here’s to the people who do the work that goes unappreciated. Here’s to the people who only ever get noticed when something goes wrong. The fact that I spend the vast majority of my days not dealing with things going wrong means you’re doing a great job. I appreciate you so much, and you just don’t get told that enough.
If you’re reading this, I challenge you make it your mission today to tell someone who works behind the scenes that their work is appreciated.
Tell your garbageman thank you. Tell the person who manages your apartment complex that you appreciate all the crap she puts up with. Thank a farmer, a teacher, a road worker, or anyone who works hard to make your life better.