I try really hard not to give waffly answers when I’m asked about something I don’t want to do, or when I feel like my answer will be “no” about something.
And I hate when this consideration isn’t extended in return. If I invite you somewhere and you’re busy, there’s no need to tell me that you’ll think about it. Just say no. Now.
I understand the desire to come across as giving something consideration, and it stems from a desire to be liked. To be accepted. That’s natural.
But you have to keep in mind that 1) no one worth keeping in your life is going to hate you for declining an invitation and 2) you will garner more respect from your peers (and make life easier for everyone involved) when you develop the ability to make sound and immediate decisions.
I went through this the other day at the office when my friend told me about a startup event here in Buenos Aires taking place next week. I checked out the website and said I’d let him know if I were going, but realized what I was doing and corrected my mistake.
In the ensuing discussion, we had a discussion about why I wasn’t going.
I explained that I’m at a point in my career where I don’t need inspiration and new ideas and the next thing to focus on, what I need is to make progress every day and become a pro at my craft.
I need to show up every day and relentlessly attack my goals instead of constantly seeking out the next trend in technology or social media [gag]. Those are just distractions.
And while the event looks to be full of respected startup founders and successful technologists, I had to think about what attendance would cost me. The price of admission wasn’t much (I think less than $100) but I run support for a piece of software that a lot of people use, so me being “off” for a day presents some significant challenges.
Chiefly: I wouldn’t be providing the best experience for our customers needing urgent help (a quick response and acknowledgement is one of the best customer service touches possible) if I was unavailable during business hours. Not worth it for this.
My friend understood of course (thanks Neel) and we chatted for a bit more about commitment to work and what’s important to us in life right now.
A much better outcome than if I had given him a weak last-minute apology and a lame excuse.