Expectations and comparisons

Published on 
4 min, 608 words

Categories: life

Some times expectations are met, or exceeded, and sometimes they fail to be met.

I was recently fortunate enough to travel to Vienna for work with two colleagues. We have an office and team there and we needed to discuss some aspects of upcoming work.

We have a running joke that when we go to Vienna we must eat Apple Strudel, with vanilla sauce.

Last time one of the others was in Vienna was taken by a friend to have strudel and was given something completely different. His disappointment was immense.

On our trip we were able to eat strudel twice. The first time was at a venue (I won't name them) that had good reviews and was one of THE places to eat it in Vienna. It was very ornate with smart waiters and waitresses. With this in mind, our expectations were very high. We were served strudel but these expectations weren't met. It was a little overcooked and lacked flavour. The service was brilliant but the product wasn't as good.

Our second strudel was at a cafe opposite the Opera House. The strudel here was excellent and exceeded our expectations - which had admittedly been tempered by our experience the previous day. The difference between the two was huge.

We also had a running joke about the mysterious "Gates G" at the airport in Vienna. We mostly flew British Airways and these would always come into "Gates D". This section of the airport was very old fashioned, the food was not great and there was nothing to do. One day we followed the signs to this other area and were greeted by a more up-to-date airport experience.

Due to the pandemic we had not flown to Vienna for about three years. Unknown to us, until we landed, the dreary "Gates D" area had been updated and refurbished. It was now significantly improved. We visited "Gates G" for old times sake and found that it was actually worse than this new area now. It is still just an area of an airport and doesn't compare to most others we have visited but our expectations of both had changed due to our previous level of expectations and we appreciated the area much more than we would have done had we visited it for the first time.

Yes, these both might seem like trivial - and probably odd - examples. However it demonstrates the impact that expectations can have on our experience of something. In the case of the strudel, if we had not had it before then we would probably have really liked the first one but we had already set our expectations. For the second one, our previous expectations meant that the changes made impacted how we perceived both areas - one better and one worse.

This can happen in all areas of life. We read a good review of something or somewhere and our expectations are high. Similarly, we read a bad review and our expectations are set very low. When we actually experience the item or the place we compare it with our pre-set expectations and our enjoyment of it will be influenced by this comparison.

A number of times I have been surprised by something where I was not expecting it. In a lot of cases this was due to having low expectations that were exceeded. Going forward, are you setting your expectations too low or, probably more importantly, too high and is this impacting how you enjoy things?


Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker