Imagine you are being asked to do something pointless by a scary customer, or perhaps by your boss.
Arguing is just going to upset them, nobody likes to be told they’re wrong. And suppose you’re pretty sure they aren’t even going to notice. Maybe they frequently ask for small things and they never follow any of them up. Why not say yes and then quietly forget about it?
Two questions for you:
1: Would you do it if you know 100% that they won’t notice? I know you can never be sure, but if you really were certain – would you do the pointless job that wastes you time and prevents you doing something else, or would you quietly say yes and then just not do it?
2: How about if there was only a 1 in 100 chance of them noticing? Or 1 in 10? Would you take the risk and say yes and then not do it? In the unlikely event of being caught you could always say you were about to do it, or that something changed since you promised it, or “Didn’t you get my email?”. And by the way, if you’re prepared to gamble at 1/100 but not 1/10, at what point do you decide to renege on your promise? 1/50? 1/25?
Here’s what I think about saying yes and then not doing it:
I suggest you NEVER do it, even if you’re certain that they won’t notice, because actually there is always a chance they will – and also, do you want to be that sort of person??
There are three advantages of always keeping your promises….
1 – It simplifies your life – everything is either being done or not, there is nothing grey, nothing having the decision postponed, nothing on your list of “I might….” (which you mentally have to keep revisiting) or “I’m not doing it and hoping I don’t get caught” – all of which adds up to stress, and reduced self esteem. Do you want to be that person? It’s only one up from lying!
2 – It forces you to say no, which is good discipline. Otherwise you slip into saying yes to everything and then you are in hock to everyone else. Because I know that yes means yes, if I’m not sure I can do it I HAVE to say no, and that’s great.
3 – It’s great for customers. Being 100% reliable puts you in maybe the top 10% of suppliers, before you even start! How many people do you know who you can really trust, 100%? They are a rare thing aren’t they! It’s THAT easy to get ahead of most of your competitors. Then if you add ‘being nice’, you’re in the top 2% before you even get to the actually quality of your work – which is obviously going to be great as well.
And by the way, you think you get away with it but you rarely do. Customers and bosses aren’t stupid, and if you’re unreliable they’ll know. They don’t have to catch you out more than once, and even if they can’t prove it they’ll have a feeling about you. And once they catch you out even one time that’s it – they file you away in their mind as unreliable.
So – write everything down as soon as you say yes to it, so you’ll never forget to deliver it. And everything else gets a No!