You thought that surprising your friend on their birthday would make them happy. Instead, they’re annoyed. You thought bringing cut flowers was a nice gesture. Instead, the person is upset about what happened to the plant.
At the office, you thought that shortcut you added would help. Instead, the person is angry with you for disrupting their routine. You thought that finishing quickly would be appreciated. Instead, the person is furious that in your haste you missed a small item.
The best takeaway is that you don’t know. You don’t know what will or won’t work, you only know what will work for you. In business, we have to employ similar humility. We don’t always know. Rather than assume, or do something based on what YOU would enjoy or appreciate, ask the person instead. Ask “will this help you?”
The answer may surprise, confound, or downright annoy you. They may prefer to do it the old way, the slow way, the inefficient way. They may put more value on routine than on improvement. People aren’t wrong, they’re just different. You don’t know if that shortcut you’re taking is going to please the people around you. If you ask before taking it, you may avoid a disappointment.