As we headed home from dinner last night, I saw a text message from a prospective client asking if his case had been reviewed yet. I had talked with him personally about three weeks ago and promised that I would look at his matter quickly.
Sometimes we get intakes where I will do the initial analysis myself. Usually, it’s a situation where there is not necessarily an obvious case, but something just doesn’t seem “right.” This was one of those.
The case had not been reviewed yet.
I was embarrassed. Sitting in the restaurant parking lot, I responded to the text and told him I would do so today - and I will.
Here, I had made the cardinal error of OVER-promising and UNDER-delivering.
When we tell people we will do something, they reasonably expect we will do it. When we don’t, their disappointment is not only real, it’s magnified.
Dealing with clients and prospective clients means we always need to be very honest with ourselves about what we can do and how quickly we can do it. We then need to be quite deliberate and careful about informing others accordingly.
Sometimes, we will need to say no, or that something might take a relatively long time to get done. That message can make people unhappy. However, that flavor of unhappiness is preferable to the flavor of unhappiness created by unmet expectations.
Err on the side of UNDER-promising and OVER-delivering.