Reasonableness of Expectations
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Unreasonably Low Expectations
You might think that a client with low expectations would be a godsend: if higher expectations means more chance of disappointment, then lower expectations means less chance of an unhappy client. Well, that’s true, but only to a point. Overall, flexible, undemanding clients really are easier to work for. The problem comes in when their expectations are so low that it really indicates an underlying issue.
Sometimes clients have low expectations because they don’t really know what they want. They suggest in their project listing, or during the bidding process, that they are flexible in terms of what they want delivered, but that’s only because they don’t have a good handle on the project at all. This can lead to disappointment no matter what you deliver, or worse, attempts to rescope or change the project mid-stream.
Another problem is the client who really is demanding but is afraid of being honest about this in his or her project listing. These clients will intentionally act “happy-go-lucky” in their project descriptions to avoid scaring off freelancers, and then slowly become more demanding as the work is in progress. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen it.
Finally, perhaps the most insidious cases are those of clients who think they have low expectations but really don’t. I’ve encountered projects where the client lists the work to be done, constantly claims he or she is “okay” with everything in a very accommodating manner—and then gives the contractor a poor review, complaining about a host of issues that were never raised while the project was underway. Fortunately, this too is not very common, but you should watch out for it. This usually is not intentional, so the best defense against it is frequent communication with the client, asking clearly and often if he or she is happy with the work as you are doing it.
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