We all get hopelessly over-scheduled at times. But if you find yourself constantly rescheduling your work appointments, running hopelessly behind schedule, never being able to commit to plans with friends or family (including your spouse and kids), then you may have some issues to sort out.
Not to be Miss Manners on you, but every time you bail or flake on somebody—whether in a professional, social or family setting—you’re signaling lack of respect. You’re also signaling that you can’t manage your own time and that you have no respect for other people’s time. It signals that you’re spread a mile wide and an inch deep, and that you’re a chronic “over-promiser” and “under-deliverer.”
Sorry to be harsh, but that’s what you’re telling the world. Don’t be that guy (or gal).
If this sounds like you or someone close to you, you’re not alone. Thanks, to the smartphone, it’s never been easier to bail, flake, blow-off or simply ghost people without risking a face-to-face (or telephone) conversation. It’s never been easier to get out of a time commitment without having to apologize or show remorse. It’s what psychotherapist Nancy Collier, LCSW calls “Last Minute-Itis.”
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Cancelling because of a serious illness is one thing, but when you habitually bail or flake it’s not only disrespectful, it’s a sign of weakness. It’s like blowing off your morning jog, your thrice- weekly gym workout or falling of your diet or budget plan—it means you’re disrespecting yourself.
Do you really want to do business with people (or clients) who can’t honor their commitments? Do you really want to be friends with (or in a relationship) with like this?
We didn’t think so.
According to Collier, tech-driven bad behavior is symptomatic of our increasing inability to make or honor commitments. “The fact that it is acceptable to bail in the final hour means that we no longer have to commit to anyone or anything. We leave our lives forever loose, with the option always present that if something better comes up or we change our mind, we’re out. We live in a constant state of ‘we’ll see.’”
We’re living in a “Golden Age of Bailing” wrote NY Times columnist, David Brooks last week. Brooks said bailing stands at the “nexus of so many larger trends” including the “ambiguity of modern social relationships, the fraying of commitments, and the ethic of flexibility ushered in by smartphone apps.”
Brooks pointed the finger at technology which makes bailing out on commitments very easy. “You just pull out your phone and bailing on a rendezvous is as easy as canceling an Uber driver.”
Brooks said there are different categories of bailing.
1. Canceling on friends. People feel free to bail on close friends, because they will understand, and on distant friends, because they don’t matter so much, but they are less inclined to bail on medium-tier or fragile friends.
- Professional bailing. This tends to have a hierarchical structure. A high-status person will frequently bail on a lower-status colleague, but if an intern bails on a senior executive, it is a sign of serious disrespect.
- The networker flake. In the information age, the highly ambitious are masters of acquaintanceship — making a zillion useful contacts, understanding the strength of weak ties and bailing on a networking prospect with a killer-eyed coldness when a better offer comes along.
Author and motivational speaker, Brendan Burchard offers four suggestions for sticking to your word.
#1. Don’t commit. Stop committing to things that you’re not passionate about. When you lack passion for the commitments you make, they tend to feel like heavy obligations or trifle commitments. They’re easy to cancel or quit. Learning to turn down more opportunities (even the good ones!) will help you stick to your word.
#2. Respect other people’s time. Your time is not more valuable than others. Respect others’ time much as you respect and want to protect your own. Remember that everybody has priorities and a to-do list each day. Your decision to cancel on them disrupts their day and life, and that’s not fair. You don’t want people ruining your schedule so don’t do it to others.
#3. Know your payoffs. Sometimes, we say ‘yes’ to a lot of things but we forget the payoff when we start working on them. We forget why we said ‘yes’ in the first place and lose passion, and so we quit. Before you cancel on anything, try to remember why you originally said yes. In other words, revisit the payoff so that you’re willing to endure the struggle.
#4. You break it, you buy it. If you cancel on someone or fail to deliver, you’ve broken your word. You need to buy back your character, reputation, and integrity with an act of kindness, generosity, or attrition. You’ll have to go beyond your original commitment. Not only does this type of act regain your reputation, it also supports you on your journey to being a good person. When you mess up, be more generous.
In my next post, I’ll share some cures from the experts for Last Minute-Itis and three moral hurdles that every bailer should meet in order to have the privilege of canceling last-minute.
In the meantime, take a deep breath and count to three, before you hit the Cancel Meeting request. Think about the person on the receiving end and the likelihood they’ll honor a commitment with you the next time.
TAGS: David Brooks, Nancy Collier, Golden age of bailing, flaking, ghosting, not respecting people’s time