Have you noticed the habit of a lot of people who talk about what they’re “fittin'” to do? (Also known as “fixin’ to do,” going to do,” and “promises, promises.”)
A lot of folks seem to think that promising to do a thing is the same as actually doing it. Some of these folks just want to go on record as being willing to do a thing even though, as you’ve watched them over time, they never actually seem to do what they promise. Some never even seem to remember that they made a promise in the first place.
I visit Charlotte quite often and every time I do – there is one friend who says when we touch base, “I’ll call you on (whatever day) so we can set up a time to get together” or “I want to have you and your husband over for dinner, I’ll call you later, I really want to you to see my place.” Somehow, in at least half-a-dozen visits, this has not happened yet. And it’s okay. I do find it funny, however, when I get the call. It virtually guarantees that I will not hear from her for the duration of my trip. Or she’ll call back and say something like, “so, let’s figure out where we can go out to eat.” (Uh, I thought you were having us over for dinner.) And, yes, I’ve tried to nail down a meeting time in the initial touch base call but it doesn’t work. On my most recent trip to Charlotte, I was there for 18 days and we didn’t get to see each other – despite her promise that she would definitely see me before I left.
It could be that she’s just not that into me any more. Our friendship was once close and has now petered out because of time, distance, and other impediments. It is the memory of our former closeness and the entwined history of our families that keeps her making the promise/proposal and me being ambivalent about whether it happens.
She is not the only person I know, however, who makes proposals/promises/play dates and doesn’t follow-through.
There was a colleague I had at my last job who I never saw follow-up on anything she promised at staff meetings. She had a perky personality and upbeat voice (watch out for those!) and would volunteer to do such-and-such all the time but she never did any of it. After close observation, I realized that she wanted to go on record as a team player, as someone who was volunteering for projects, but she never intended to do anything at all. I, on the other hand, not known as Miss Perky by any stretch of the imagination, always followed through and delivered. However, because I wasn’t perky and didn’t have a sunny voice, I was not always seen as a supportive member of the team. I also learned that people often dislike folks who do what they say they’re going to do on a regular basis. Somehow, they feel it reflects badly on them or that you think you’re all that or some other such detestable trait. Go figure.
I’m big on follow-through because I once disappointed a friend mightily when I didn’t do something I promised to do for her. This was back in my girlish days when I had a tendency to follow my hedonistic tendencies to have spontaneous adventures. Despite my promise to help her on that day, my pursuit of the pleasure principle won. I let her down. (I never saw him again.) In the shambles of that shattered bond with my friend, I vowed to:
- do what I said I was going to do,
- follow-through on promises,
- not say yes before I had carefully considered what was asked of me,
- keep and check my calendar for work and personal appointments,
- call ahead to confirm before traipsing off to an appointment (can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up for a meeting that people had forgotten about or canceled without notice),
- try, whenever possible, to keep the first appointment/date/promise because rescheduling is never easy and often won’t happen,
- never cancel an appointment with a girlfriend because of an opportunity to go out with a man (because the men came and went whereas most girlfriends last forever).
Having integrity and being dependable is essential to my well-being and success. Verbalizing a promise creates an expectation that when not met, causes disappointment which can lead to mistrust. It’s better to say, “let’s try to get together” than to say, “we’ll do xyz on…”and then it doesn’t happen.
I’m hip to you fittin’ to do, fixin’ to do, gonna do promisers. Once I’ve noticed your track record, I’m not falling for or giving any emotional room to false promises any more. I promise.