This is the dictionary definition of delight. But recently I discovered a formula that describes delight in another way:

Delight = Experience - Expectation

When experience is worse than the expectation, this produces negative delight which means frustration and anger.

But it’s interesting to see that, if we don’t expect too much, we can be delighted as well. Imagine going through some government paperwork that you expect to be difficult, slow, and painful and ends up being really easy. In that case, you are delighted as well, even if it wasn’t the best experience out there.

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This concept came from UX designers but it’s applicable to other contexts:

Manage expectations to your boss when doing your job. Deliver better and more thorough content than your audience expects. Have a great experience when onboarding a new company. However, we get used to expectations as a result of hedonic adaptation. When I first switched from Linux to Mac, I was delighted all the time. Everything just worked. I did not have to spend all day setting up the drivers for my wifi card! But you get used to it. If you expect that everything works, when something fails it will frustrate you. If you have delighted your users in the past, expect your bar to be higher.

You have the power of setting expectations for what you do. For example, did you expected to receive a package one day and received it the day before? The courier gave you a pessimistic expectation and they over-delivered, so you feel delighted.

The key is to set the expectations with enough margin that the experience is always better. After this, improve the experience bit by bit until you find the sweet spot where people get delighted all the time.