By: Tina Baiter
Playing the dating game can be a challenge that is sometimes fun, sometimes heartbreaking, and always complex. I was recently reminded of this when a friend, who I will call Allan, of mine was stood-up on a date he had eagerly been looking forward to attending. His experience reminded me of a golden rule in any relationship – respect people’s time.
For over two weeks Allan had been waiting for the right time to go out with a new friend he had met. He wasn’t looking for anything more than an evening of fun and getting to know her better. When she gladly accepted his offer to join him for dinner and an evening out, he got to work planning a special night of fun.
A few hours before the date, Allan called to confirm everything was a go. It was, and his friend, who we’ll call Alice, told him she would give him the exact time to pick her up later that day. Time seemed to pass by slowly for Allan. And when 5 o’clock became 7 o’clock he began to worry about Alice. He called her, but there was no answer. He sent her a text message, but there was no reply. By the time 9 o’clock rolled around, Allan realized Alice wasn’t going to go on the date.
The sad thing for Allan was he had also given up an evening out with other friends because he had made a commitment to Alice to go out that night. What he didn’t understand was why Alice had changed her mind and then went out of her way to avoid letting him know that.
The Lesson from Allan
How many times have you been in Allan’s shoes? You have planned an event, sent out invitations, and had no response, but a large turn out. Or you have had numerous people respond, and on the day of the event, only a few show?
If you’re in sales, how many times have you set-up a sales appointment, only to arrive and find the prospective client has blown you off?
How many times have you set-up an appointment to mentor someone and they never showed up?
Allan’s situation can apply to any type of relationship: family, friendship, courtship, spouses, business, and even co-workers. And I’d bet that at some point in your life, you have felt just like Allan did as he sat waiting and wondering why someone did not respect his time enough to be honest about their intentions on showing up.
As a society, we have grown to accept people not sending in an RSVP to an event. We have grown to accept blowing of sales people when something else comes up. We have grown to accept not calling or texting to say we won’t be able to make it. And I think the reason we’ve accepted it is because there is nothing else we can really do about it. I would beg to differ. My advice to Allan was anyone rude enough to not respect his time, did not deserve the honor of his presence. Sometimes those words are easier to hear than they are to accept though.
The Lesson from Alice
On the flip side, how many times have you committed yourself to something you really didn’t want to follow through on doing – then when the day of the event arrived, you flaked out, blew someone off, or just ignored them hoping the situation would just go away?
The reality is the situation never goes away, and it actually creates two problems. First, it creates a lack of trust. When you knowingly tell someone you will be somewhere, they are giving you something very precious. They are giving you their time. When you steal that time from them by not showing up, you make them question your sincerity and your integrity.
Second, it creates a hole in the relationship. Although it was easiest for Alice to just ignore Allan when she decided she really didn’t want to go out that night, she didn’t take into account their friendship. Allan would have gladly accepted the fact that Alice didn’t want to go on the date. What he had a hard time accepting was Alice not respecting him enough to be honest. When a relationship lacks honesty, a hole that is nearly impossible to fill is created.
The Final Moral
We live in a society that is overbooked, overworked and overextended. Many people live by the motto, “Time is Money,” and that makes time a very precious thing. Remember that as you schedule business meetings, lunch with co-workers, dates with your spouse, or time with your family. When someone requests the honor or your presence, have the integrity to respect their time with an honest answer. And if something comes up, have the decency to let them know that too. Respecting people’s time will work wonders on all your relationships.
[Ed. Note: Our new audio program, Living Every Minute: Design the Life You Deserve, is designed to help you build your relationships. Share your thoughts on this week’s article with other readers below.]