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The “No Surprises” Policy

There’s an unfortunate chain of events that can be put into motion and unintentionally ruin your week or year.

1) You and your client might be professionals, but at the end of the day, your relationship often feels personal, so it largely functions like one.
2) As the lubricant of any personal relationship, trust is built on predictable behavior that shows you care about and understand the client.
3) Since the client doesn’t understand much of why you do what you do, they can only conclude that doing the steps you always did is how you show that care and competence.

This stacked, lop-sided situation means that any surprising step, any subversion of the client’s expectation can do serious damage even to a long-standing client relationship.

And people

It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t your fault, if the surprise is objectively good for the client, or if they should have seen it coming.

The cardinal rule of business relationships is [never let me be supruised].

Of course, things grow and progress in every relationship. In the turbulent reality, changes are inevitable, and everybody knows that. Still, their expectation stands.

Knowing that, always try to telegraph every change in your relationship as far ahead as you dare, and when the inevitable happens and they get surprised despite your best efforts, you can fall back on the trust you earned by visibly trying not to surprise them so far.

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