Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say

Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say.

Often times when I am in the company of people at work I am delighted with their generosity. People offer to do small things for me like post a letter or pick up a package on their way back from lunch or even drop off an envelope on their way to another office. I often think how nice it is that we all want to help each other.

I am a trusting soul so that when someone says that they will do something I believe them and carry on as though it was already accomplished. A challenge can often arise when the promised deed is not done. I will ask what happened and then listen to the excuses. “Oh yeah I really meant to but I got distracted” or “well actually I had a change of plan and will do it for you tomorrow” or “I didn’t realize you wanted it done today!” and on and on. If only we were getting paid for the creativity of excuses.

So where does this leave me? Often a task I thought was completed ends up with me now having to find time to fit it into my day. This can waste my time because without the offer of help I was fine anyway and had the deed as part of my plan. When I accepted an offer of help I thought that was boosting me along with my plan and saving me time. To find out it is not saving me time after all can end up being frustrating as well wasting my time unnecessarily.

Then there is the quality of my relationship with the people that let me down. If it happens once in a blue moon I can accept that, yet when it happens more than a couple of times I have to set a new strategy on how to deal with some people’s offer of help. As much as I want to keep trusting people and keep the friendly relationship going, it would be a poor business decision on my part to accept an offer of help from someone who has let me down more than once. I now need to think about how I can decline their offer without upsetting them. Well, I could be open and honest and just say “I find that your track record of help is very poor and based on that choose not to accept your kind offer of help”. The thing is that if I say something like that in many work environments that will be seen as me being aggressive or not easy to get along with or maybe not even a team player. Not wanting to be seen as an aggressive person or non-team player I will probably just say something like “oh thanks for offering but that’s fine I got this”.

The challenge for many of us is that we have a lot to do in our day and a limited amount of time to be productive. Given that limited time for the work we have to do offers of assistance and help would be wonderful if the people that made the offer really meant it and followed through in an appropriate manner. So why offer to help someone if you are not going to follow through? I do not think they plan to not follow through, in fact I suspect the problem may well be that they do not plan at all. I think they probably have a subconscious desire to feel needed or wanted and when they see something they could assist with they only see that it is something that they can do but do not see themselves actually doing it.

I do know that I am not a psychologist and cannot change the folk that offer to help and then let me down. I also know that I strive not to be like that, I practice thinking if I will really do something before offering help. I strive to always make it a priority to complete the task I have offered to help with so that I know within myself that I am reliable. I follow the mantra Say what you mean and mean what you say…otherwise say nothing.

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