Inspired by Dan Pearce's candor in his recent post "An Open Letter To Ye Who is Always Late" which espouses on chronically tardy (read: disrespectful) people, I have a similar rant:
"Wanna go to the zoo on Wednesday afternoon?"
"Um, you want to join us or you don't want to join us?"
Maybe. We'll see. I'll try. Not sure. I'll see if I can make it.
This is called the Next Best Girl Syndrome. Commitment-phobes are constantly in a state of flux. (I get being hesitant to commit to a spouse - we dated for two years before we got engaged, or a house - we lived in 13 apartments before we bought something, but a frigging afternoon trip to the zoo?)
It's like living in Los Angeles (or, since I've never lived there, what I'd imagine life in LA might be.) You go to a party, there are zillions of beautiful people in the room, and your conversation partner is not engaging you as you banter back and forth. Instead, she is constantly gazing over your shoulder, scanning the room, determining if you are indeed her best attention investment at that moment. Is there someone more prominent, higher-ranked in the food chain, that she could be doting on? Someone with superior connections, more exceptional hair, a worthier paycheck? A constant calculation - is there something/someone finer than you that she could perhaps substitute or trade up to?
Commitment-phobe, LA wannabe Mom I just invited to the zoo: Are you thinking that perhaps some sexier, more enticing invitation might come along, so you don't want to tie yourself down to the mundane me and my mundane kids and the mundane zoo? Assuming George Clooney is going to escort you into his private jet for a weekend jaunt to Paris, are you?
"Maybe" generally doesn't exist in my vocabulary. Either I am uncertain I can make it due to someone else (sometimes my husband) not making us their minds about plans, and I'll check and get back to you promptly, or I can go, or I cannot.
"Maybe" communicates some bland form of hesitance and distaste. It certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm unlikely to continue inviting, or showing interest, since my invitation is clearly not high enough on the social food chain. "Maybe" means "I don't really want to, but I'm too much of a pussy to say that. It's easier just to disappear and flake." Weakness is unattractive.
"I'm not sure. Let's connect later in the week" is the making-plans equivalent to an air kiss. It's the don't-call-us-we'll-call-you end to an unsuccessful sales pitch. It's the leave-me-your-business-card rejection at happy hour.
"Maybe" is the ultimate in Flake Factor. Given a 15 year career in Human Resources, morphed into digital marketing, then swallowed by ghost writing, I have come across my fair share of people. Most have an intolerant, abhorrent level of Flake Factor. Oh, is this a job? I thought it was a hobby - y'know, optional. Like, if my kid is sick or my dad is visiting or the moon is full or it's every other Tuesday, y'know, I just don't work. You mean I have to show up? Like, regardless? Consistently? Yeah, I'm out. But can I have a raise?
Perhaps it's the Midwestern in me, or the Type-A-ness, but I absolutely have difficulty with flakiness in any respect. Both in my personal and professional lives. I invite you to guest blog, you agree, and then I never hear from you again. I make a referral or introduction, thus recommending you, putting my name and my reputation on your head, and you provide less than impressive service - or worse - you disappear completely. Then I look like a jackass.
I'm comfortable with "no."
No, I wish I could walk you through how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, I'm sorry, I'm too booked right now.
No, we can't come to dinner on Friday night, we'll be at my in-laws, but thanks for the invitation.
No, I cannot accept the job since I received a better offer in my field.
No, we can't make it to the gymboree Tuesday afternoon, we have soccer.
Or just, no thank you. Much appreciated, but no thank you.
Why is everyone allergic to "no"? I'll tell you what's 1,000 times worse: Maybe. Baby, don't call me "maybe."