May 282013
 

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Some years ago, Sally and Terri discussed partnering to present a workshop. Initially, Terri was excited and they started the preliminary planning. As Sally began putting ideas together, Terri stopped returning her calls. Sally moved forward on the project, thinking that Terri had just gotten busy.

But as time went on, and details needed to be finalized, it became imperative for Sally to connect with Terri. Eventually, Terri called and said, “I don’t think I’m the right person for this. I kept putting off letting you know because I didn’t want to let you down.” All the time and work Sally had put into the project was for nothing, simply because Terri wouldn’t let Sally know she’d changed her mind.

Because Terri hadn’t wanted to disappoint Sally, she hadn’t been honest with her. If she’d let Sally know when she’d first come to that conclusion, it would have saved Sally hours of work and frustration. Instead of disappointing her, Terri would have freed her to look for another partner. But the delay undermined/scuttled the entire project.

Have you ever know someone to do this? They agreed to help, participate, or volunteer, but then changed their mind? Then they disappeared because they didn’t want to let the coordinator down. By being unavailable, they hoped that the planner would get the message that they didn’t want to do it. They didn’t want to look like a bad guy by making the break and hoped the coordinator would move on to someone else. They acted this way because they didn’t want to deal with the coordinator’s disappointment.

The reality was that their actions weren’t making it easier on the coordinator, but harder. They held the coordinator hostage, not letting them move on to find someone else or make other plans. They avoided confronting the issue because they didn’t want to deal with the guilt of not living up to their agreement and the discomfort of communicating this to the coordinator.

Do you ever do this, to yourself or others? Have you ever said “Yes” to doing something, but didn’t really want to do it? And then you avoided communicating your true decision? Have you ever wanted to end a relationship, and rather than making a clean break, tried leaving clues? Unfortunately, if you did, the other person just ended up confused and frustrated.

This lack of communications makes life difficult for the other person and for you. The result isn’t that the problem magically disappears, but that the other person is confused. And you wind up looking like the bad guy. People will stop asking you to be involved in projects, not because you lack the ability, but because they no longer trust you.

Copyright 2013 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

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