Have you ever worked really hard planning an event, making sure to do everything to the best of your ability, only to have a woman come up afterward and point out what you did wrong?
Most planners have, and it can be really disappointing!
If you truly planned and executed the event well, most complaints from women will fall into one category: Unmet Expectations.
Regardless of whether or not a woman's expectations were unreasonable, the fact that they existed is pivotal and this reality must be addressed by event planners.
Here are two illustrations of how this works:
The first one was really difficult for me to watch. It happened to my sister-in-law, Lynnette, who is an amazing woman. She lives in a houseful of giants as the mother of five sons, the shortest of whom is 6'3".
My husband, kids and I travel to visit them for most major holidays. We usually bed down at my dad and mom-in-law's house, but Lynnette hosts most of the all-family meals. She opens her home to her parents and in-laws, any siblings who happen to be in town (including us), her own children and grandchildren, plus whoever else she thinks to invite.
Lynnette has the gift of hospitality and extends it freely. She is not only willing, but she is exceedingly capable.
So, it was with tremendous sadness that I observed the effect of one simple "unmet expectation" as it played out at our Thanksgiving dinner a few years back. For some reason, unlike her usual routine, Lynnette didn't make any gravy.
No big deal, right? I mean, the meal had every other imaginable component, except gravy.
And maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal, except that, as the meal progressed, nearly twenty of the guests, one at a time, approached the hostess (or worse, yelled from an adjoining room), asking for the gravy.
Some of the comments heard above the din included the sentiment, "How can it be Thanksgiving Dinner without gravy!?"
The effect of this comment (x 20) was inevitable. It was as if Lynnette had served us raw potatoes and prune juice: Seemingly ALL of her other preparations appeared lost due to the one missing component.
God, have mercy on every hostess (and event planner)!
Of course, the sign of a true servant is that they serve regardless of the praise (or lack of it) from men. Lynnette is such a woman, and she continues to entertain better than the best of them.
The reality is that people come to Thanksgiving Day Dinners (meetings, events and retreats) with a set of expectations. If you are going to spend all the time, tears, toil and trouble hosting an event, then I have just one desire for you: When it is all over and you fall into bed exhausted, I pray that your attendees will join God in saying to you, "Well done!"
Another illustration occurred as I helped serve a catered meal at an annual sales convention.
As the guests entered the serving area, they were met with a full color display featuring appetizing photos of their Mexican meal options. They could choose a Chicken Combo, a Three Beef Hard Shell Meal, or a Super Beef Soft Shell Meal, among others choices.
The photos were beautiful, the servings were large and the options were excellent. In addition, the entire time we were waiting, non-sales convention employees kept coming into the serving area hoping they, too, could get in on the meal (because the aroma was driving them crazy, it smelled so good).
I was standing right behind the display, serving up the first part of the meal and I was shocked by what I heard over and over and over. As each person came near enough to see the display, they, or someone near them said, "Hey! What happened to my sub?" or "This isn't subs!" or some similar comment of surprised disappointment.
Now, the food was not at all disappointing! We have over two thousand regular customers who swear by our food. (Many are travelers who say that their first stop, when coming into town, is our restaurant. Others have told us that they drive 40 miles out of the way just to eat our Soft Shell Tacos. Many have described our House Pizza as the best they've ever eaten.)
So why would I hear disappointment in nearly every voice?
We later learned that at the beginning of the first session that morning they had been asked to fill out and turn in a sub order. Obviously, nobody heard the part about it being "tomorrow's" lunch.
What was interesting was that each person handled their surprise in their own way. Some just rolled with it and within seconds chose a Mexican substitute (with a high level of excitement). While others, especially the women, needed time to adjust.
I heard some of them discussing how this change would affect them for the rest of the day. "Hmmm, I was going to have roast beef for supper, but (sigh) I think I'd rather have the beef now. Oh, I don't know what to do."
This very small change, from subs to Mexican, required a mental shift that was, for some people, nigh unto painful.
And while the Mexican meal was served without a hitch, their enjoyment of it was greatly inhibited by the sense of confusion and the initial disappointment at not getting what they had ordered.
Again, unmet expectations lead to unnecessary stress for everybody.
The point is this: The next time you set out to please a woman, be sure that you take time to clearly understand her expectations and to help her understand what will and will not be taking place. A little time spent in discovering her expectations can make a huge difference in her (and your) experience.
Marnie Swedberg is a popular media expert who works with thousands of women from six continents as a Leadership Mentor. Check out her many online resources here: http://www.marnie.com