It’s happened to me two times in two days. Someone told me they would call at some appointed time, and then didn’t. It bothers me. Not that it was important that they call me…..there really was no “need” for us to talk. But the words were said, I said I would be available, and I felt obligated to pay attention to my phone. Then they didn’t call. I was disappointed, and angry, and I simply can’t figure out this side of a person who I want to be able to count on. Why would they make a point of saying they would call and then not do it? And why would they do it two days in a row…..and then not acknowledge or apologize?
The words we speak to others matter. What we tell people we are going to do in the course of a day, in the course of a life, matters. Big or little, our words are our commitments. If you don’t mean it, why say it?
Most often it is is the seemingly “little” words that we forget. And they get to be a habit. How about “Let’s get together….I’ll call you.” Somehow the call doesn’t get made. I know I have been guilty of this. Some of you know that I have, too!
And RSVP’s. Even if you avoided learning that it stands for “Repondez s’il vous plait” (Forgive the lack of accent marks and possibly wrong spelling…..2 years of Janie Jones French only carried me so far. But I can still play a good game of Jolie!), you should have learned by now that it means you are to tell the host whether you are coming. Or not. How rude are we when we don’t do that by the deadline they give us? And what does it mean? Does it mean we are waiting for a better offer? Or just waiting to see how we feel when that day comes around? Or we know we aren’t going to go, but just don’t want to tell the person? Or it is just not important enough for us to get to?
Have you given a party lately? My guess is that you have run into this problem. It is epidemic. How are you to plan if you don’t know who is going to show up? What about the money paid for those plates at that wedding reception, or the extra food bought and wasted because you thought they were attending? Or for the panic that there will not be enough food and drink when extras show up? Makes a lot of us not want to entertain!
We had a Model UN coach when I was in college that was always very excited when we got invited to tournaments. He was simply delighted and thought that it meant they noticed us as worthy. We, the cynical college students, just figured we got on a mailing list somewhere. And we laughed at him. But in a way he was right. An invitation is always somewhat of an honor. It indicates someone wants your presence. (OK…maybe someone just feels obligated to invite you. But what is to be gained by thinking of it that way?)
While the polite host will handle whatever you dish out (calling at the last minute to give your answer, backing out right before or even afterward, showing up when you had never responded at all)….if you consider that person a friend, or even someone worthy of a small amount of respect, why wouldn’t you show them some courtesy and honor and kindness?
Yeah, OK. Not RSVP’ing is another thing I have been guilty of. Sometimes to you. One reason is that I am really bad at keeping a social calendar and these days my mind is much foggier than it used to be. Someone will ask about me attending something and I just can’t recall if I had made other plans for that date. Sometimes I simply forget what day it is and what I am supposed to do on that day. Sometimes time gets away and I just forget to respond (or I don’t open my mail and the invitation gets seen a month after the event!) And then sometimes, at the last minute when it is time to go, this introvert is just nauseous at the thought of going. It just seems exhausting to think about it!
Take a look at all of my reasons…..or let’s just call them what they really are, excuses. They are all about me. All selfish. Not good enough when it comes to the kind of friend, and person, I want to be. There are always legitimate things that get in the way of us meeting obligations….and people understand that. But more often than not, our excuse is not valid.
Our yes should be yes, our nos should be no, and our maybes…..they are a temporary placeholder. At some point they should be turned into a yes or no. But not after the fact.
What you do with your words show your character. It’s OK if you don’t want to call someone. It’s OK if you don’t want to attend their party. It’s OK if you really don’t like their outfit. It’s OK if you don’t want to spend any time with them. It’s OK if you can’t stand their partner and don’t want to be in the same room with them. It’s OK if you don’t want to volunteer to a charity. It’s OK if you don’t want to babysit their kids. It’s OK if you don’t want to give a Mary Kay party.
But it’s not OK to say something and not follow through. Or to say something and it not be the truth. Or to give people hope, and crush their spirit. Because what we say matters to people. Whether it is big or small. Important to us or not. Whether they tell us how they feel or not. Whether it seems to matter to them or not. It still matters.
As for my friend, you can probably guess. There will be no promises of phone calls accepted for a while. Either I am available when he chooses to call or I am not. Not to be punitive, but because I care. Because as his friend I have to encourage him to let his words to me count. And as his friend, I want him to be the kind of person we all can count on.