When you’re trying to convince a friend that something is amazing, it’s easy to overshoot and overhype it to the point of disappointment. To prevent this from happening, author Dan Ariely recommends you create a “fudge zone”.
We all overhype things we’re excited about. Whether it’s a movie, book or a project we’re working on. The downside of overhyping is that when we tell our friends about it, we set unreasonable expectations that can’t be met. In turn, our friends and coworkers end up not enjoying what we suggest as much as they should. Ariely recommends a pretty simple fix:
Here is how I view the issue: Heightened expectations can change our experience by (let’s say) 20%, which means that as long as the increased expectations are within this range, the expectation can “pull” the experience and influence it. But when expectations are too extreme (let’s say 60% heightened), the gap with reality becomes too wide, and they may backfire and reduce enjoyment.
If you want your friends to experience something as better than it truly is, go for it and exaggerate. But don’t exaggerate by too much. This kind of “fudge zone” also suggests that in areas of life where people are not experts, you can exaggerate a bit more.
Setting high expectations isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, expectations can actually increase our enjoyment of everything, but you want to avoid overhyping something too much. While Ariely’s point deals with you placing heightened expectations on what you recommend, the same can be done in reverse for your own expectation of enjoyment too.
Coming to Grips with Chips and Dips [Wall Street Journal]