Let’s face it, we’ve all both delivered and been recipients of the “I would love to, but I might have something on this Friday,” or the “Yeah, that might be cool. I’ll see how it pans out.”
In my case, it got so bad that my friends and colleagues started to call me out on it. I would be invited somewhere, respond tentatively and then get lambasted with “Mark, you never commit,” and “you always say maybe.”
This struck a chord with me as I started to think back and realise that, without trying to be, I truly was a fence-sitter. I didn’t commit to events, people or ideas until the last possible moment, when I was sure that nothing else better would come up. I determined, simultaneously, that this was a rather unattractive quality and that this was likely to get me omitted from future guest lists.
Now? I’m waging war on “maybe”.
While I’m sure you’re as popular as Justin Bieber at a teen convention, with a diary to rival Bridget Jones herself, I can guarantee that you rarely – if ever – have an excuse to respond to an invite with “maybe.”
Not convinced? Let’s explore why you should stop fickly feeling around that fence, pal.
Maybe you should understand the impact that “maybe” might have
Think back to the last time you invited someone out and they responded with a variation of “maybe,” or, if you’re the popular kid and the other kids don’t turn down your invites (congrats, social superhero) then revisit one of the many times you said maybe to an invite sent your way. We both know you’ve done it, or you wouldn’t be reading this far, right?
How did that make you feel, or, how do you think your noncommittal response made the person extending an invite your way feel about doing so?
I’ll tell you how most normal people feel in this situation: They feel unimportant, offended and generally annoyed by how casually you dismissed their idea or invitation. Essentially, by saying “I’ll have to check my diary” or “I’m just waiting to see if I have something on this weekend” you’re sending the message that you’re holding out for something better. And in most cases, you are. I know I was.
This person is genuinely extending an invitation in order to involve you, and you’re implying that they are second, or third, on your list. Not cool, ‘ey?
Aside from the obvious relationship damage you’re doing, not being able to give a straight answer tells us a lot about you; it typically suggests that you’re afraid of commitment, conflict or both and gives off the impression that you simply aren’t able to take charge of a situation. Now, I don’t know about you, but those typically aren’t character traits that I’d like to associate myself with.
Maybe you should save yourself the trouble
As if belittling, offending and annoying your friend or colleague wasn’t enough; if we’re being honest – how often does that “maybe” turn into a polite “no” – usually somewhere between the third and fifth follow-up? I’ll has at a guess that it’s the majority of the time.
The result? We’ve compounded the problem. We’ve dangled the carrot, given our mate some hope (albeit supplemented with a dose of annoyance) and then we’ve gone and declined right at the 11th hour anyway. Good going, you glutton.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Why do we not just respond to the initial invite with “sorry bud, I can’t do tonight. Rain check?” We get to the end result a heck of a lot faster than by falling face first from our metaphorical fence.
Or, if you do think the invite is something you’re keen on, then commit! You can save yourself the ‘umming and aahing’ and help your friend feel a lot better about including you in the first place.
Maybe you should try it?
I’m not normally one for resolutions, but this year my solitary New Years resolution was to stop saying “maybe.” I made a pact with myself that I would consider each invitation and idea carefully and give an affirmative or negative response as soon as I could. If I say I’ll go, I go. If that means that I end up missing something better, then so be it. I’ve, at the least, managed to maintain my reputation and will be more likely to crack the nod next time something cool is going on. That is far more important to me than one or two unlikely let-downs.
The same applies when I’m not interested. There are few more liberating feelings than being able to turn down an offer with a polite “no thanks.”
I’m more than happy to admit when something doesn’t particularly interest me. I’d rather decline than have to try and feign enjoyment later on.
Try it. You might just find that you feel more in charge of your own life and that your mates respect you for your positive decision-making.
Please – in the interests of fences and feelings everywhere – stop saying “maybe!”