I wrote yesterday about my routine dental cleaning that ended up being a minor surgery at the periodontist. In my pre-op appointment, they explained what would happen (to the extent I would let them!) and sent me on my way. On the actual day of the procedure, I received a sheet with all the post-op instructions.

They had previously told me that this small procedure would take about an hour and have minimal pain. What they did not tell me was that it would alter my eating habits for the next six weeks! Three days of liquids only, followed by four more days of “mushy” food (yogurt, applesauce, creamed soup, oatmeal), followed by ten more days of “soft” food (pasta, steamed veggies, fish). This is all followed by “conscientious chewing” for the next four weeks — only softer foods chewed on the opposite side — and staying away from restricted foods like gum, nuts, hard candy, berries with small seeds, and even straws.

It all makes sense — and, in fact, is not terribly arduous to follow — but it was a total surprise. I did not have a three-day supply of liquid food (broth, protein shakes, liquid yogurt) in my house — or even enough mushy food to make it my full diet for four days. I had lunch plans! I was going to Chicago — the land of good food — and could not partake! It is summer and there will be fresh sweet corn soon!

Many organizations operate like my periodontist: they share the initial information, but leave out the subsequent implications. Elementary schools don’t prepare parents for the on-going costs of field trips and after school activities. New homeowners are counseled on the cost of the mortgage, but not the time and money that is required to keep the home livable. Colleges talk about tuition, but not the cost of fees, supplies or travel home. New parents take classes to prepare for the birth of a child, but are often left on their own to raise it. Ditto for new pet owners, new car buyers and those in a host of other unfamiliar situations.

So lesson #3 from the periodontist visit: Prepare your clients for the end game. It makes it much easier to swallow when expectations are aligned with reality from the start.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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