What’s so alluring about those dense little, and vaguely prophetic treats we call fortune cookies? They’ve got to be one of the most un-appetizing desserts out there. But alas, the confection’s interior yields the unknown. We often tell (or rather, convince) ourselves that we can only control what we know. And even then, the expected isn’t always, well, expected. But we try to anticipate it anyway. Sure, we can expect to pull a fortune from the cookie, but we have no way of anticipating what it will say.
While it seems almost natural to have daily expectations, being able to anticipate things is truly something we have to constantly work at. If you work in the customer service industry, you get the hang of anticipating the needs of others really quick. You learn to read body language, tone, inflections in their voices, and anticipate needs almost as naturally as breathing. But we do this in all working-world scenarios. Expecting that a colleague will call us at a certain time is one thing. Anticipating what will come of the conversation is a completely different ball game. Working with people on a daily basis -- whether it’s in person, on the phone, or over email or social media -- practically revolves around anticipation.
Let’s say we post something on Facebook or Instagram. Following that action, we suddenly become immersed in a state of anticipation, ready to pounce and respond to comments and likes. At the moment we receive notification, we generally know who might’ve commented, or what the general tone of the comment will be. Same goes with email. The only difference, is that we tend to judge a person based on how quickly they read and respond to our last message. When it comes to communication, being able to anticipate one’s needs, or what they will say, is vital. It may even be the difference between getting that client or not. That is because anticipation is closely related to respect -- and if we show others that we are anticipatory, they will more than likely return the favor.
The next time you order Chinese (or Japanese, really, since fortune cookies are in fact absent in China, but are served in American Chinese restaurants), think about the cookie in your hand. You’ve held it before, and chances are you can remember at least one old fortune you’ve received. While we’ll never know what fortune we’re going to get, we do know that the the opportunity to be optimistic will always exist.