How many broken promises are necessary to turn a believer into a skeptic?
For some: just a few, for others: hundreds and even more.
“I am going to check it out for sure,” the wide eyes look at me with such a genuine honesty. She seems to be really excited. However, I know that’s just her being polite. I also know that most people do not do what they say. By now I have learned that.
“I really love this work; it’s so beautiful and vibrant. I will certainly come back to pick it up some time later today,” once again a genuine interest in face and very promising nodding of head. To emphasize how sure she is that I can rely on her readiness to purchase the art. People who are serious usually do not stop at promise. They take some steps right away. I have learned to distinct that by now, as well.
“We will definitely come to your event. We love this type of activity”. And they never do. I believe, since I relocated in 2004, I have been misled with polite, but empty promises for at least a few thousand times. That has resulted in doubting everything until I really have a proof of that particular thing being true. Terrible, right?
When I just arrived in Canada, I took all promises for true. I was used that people would only say something like that if they meant it. I learned after some 5-7 years here, that this practically means nothing in Canada. There are occasions when somebody really does what they told they would, but most often these are just pleasing phrases to get out of situation. Why do we need that? Polite, kind, hearty, misleading promises?
I am usually asking at the end of each session: please, let me know if you are or are not going to continue. There is usually a huge excitement: that was so much fun, I learned so much (even those who did not that well), I am definitely going to be back. I am more adapted to the pleasing kindness of this country now, so I don’t expect much of this to come true. Most often it does only at a rate of 10%.
That makes things complicated. What would happen if they told: well, I enjoyed it this far, but I cannot make it back because I think my progress is too slow or because it takes much more time and efforts than I expected. Or even: I don’t like it, or I feel it isn’t what I thought it would be. I have rarely heard people saying: this is terrible, this is not for me, I am not interested at all, I don’t really care, etc. Instead, it always is how pleasant, beautiful, wonderful and amazing whatever is, and how much they love it.
If I had done my medical writing promising clients that I would meet any abnormally tight and impossible deadlines, I don’t think I would have kept these clients. I have learned over many years while being self-employed that one should only promise what they are sure they are capable of doing. Period. I haven’t missed any single deadline within more than 35 years of doing medical translations, writing and editing not because I am a super-diligent and obsessive writer, but because I take the worst scenario and calculate time required for whatever task. I can still get myself into troubles and it’s possible I would need to work very late at night into the next morning, but that excludes major disasters. Life is life. Power can go out, we can get colds, etc., but the most important aspect is that my promise includes my ability to deliver whatever I have promised on time.
Trust is a big deal. A normal human would at first trust if there are no big bells ringing that there is something wrong with this person. It is almost like our predefined settings dictate to at first trust somebody and only doubt their actions and words when there appears to be a heavy reason for that.
I read that somebody wrote in their blog post: we all make promises we don’t keep.
Well, that is wrong. It is wrong at least from my perspective. Not all of us make such promises.
There are people who won’t compliment when there is nothing to compliment for and there are people who will honestly refuse, decline and turn down invitations, requests, calls for helping out and similar things. I look at it this way: nobody pressures me to apply for everything, to be present everywhere and to carry out every possible task there is. Why would I agree to do something which doesn’t fit in my schedule or goes against my principles? I don’t think that saying “no” is impolite.
From a very early age, I was taught to keep my promises realistic and tell the truth in cases when I expect delays. That included also telling why I don’t want or cannot do some particular task. That includes telling people some things do not fit in your schedule and priorities are priorities.
Telling truth does not mean necessarily offending somebody. It is much better that putting a patch of sweet compliment on big lies.
What do I gain by taking everything with a grain of salt? A lot. I save a lot of disappointment; I don’t have false expectation and unrealistic hopes. That allows being happy when things unexpectedly turn out better and when everything goes smoother than anticipated.
I personally appreciate honesty and truth. That means there are people who I trust completely. For instance, if my daughter or my sister say I look terrible in some outfit, my make-up is bad or my hairdo is wrong, I do not get upset or angry. I go and change my outfit; I correct my make-up or hairdo because these people would tell me TRUTH. I am lucky to have a husband who is very honest and whose opinion I can value and trust.
I wish business relationships were as honest. I don’t think one can ever get over the small lies which happen again and again. Broken promises hurt. It doesn’t matter if that is a promise to show up at a certain time or a promise to lend million bucks. Be honest and stay real: that’s not much to ask, or is it?