That’s not a very exciting word, is it? Who takes a glance at someone and says, “Wow, they are consistent!”? Consistency isn’t a trait that will entertain an audience or will, at first glance, be anything special. Really, it seems kind of dull, bland. Not anything too exciting. Not the type of thing that’s going to draw people.
But… boy. The very thing that makes consistency thing seem kind of mundane is, in my opinion, the very thing that makes it such a valuable trait to possess is the fact that it’s not flashy, it’s not sensational.
Personally, I just want to strive to be as consistent and reliable as possible — as a friend, as a brother, as a son, as a businessman — whatever. I realize that I may be a little bit different than your average Joe, but I very much value reliability in the little things — being punctual, returning phone calls, responding to e-mails — things like that.
Since that means so much to me, the least I could do is to extend that courtesy to other people. The tough thing is it’s really easy to justify it in my mind if I don’t follow through on something — maybe I’m too busy, I’m tired, or something else has popped up. Lots of times I might have a perfectly valid reason, but I think the old adage is very true that says that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.
And that’s very true! Imagine this: Say you called me and left me a voice mail last week. I told you I received it and that I would get back to you as soon as possible, yet it’s been over a week and you haven’t heard back. Now, the case could be that I’m having phone problems, or that I’m out of town and I have no reception, or that I’m extremely busy. In any one of those three scenarios, I could probably in my mind justify that I hadn’t gotten back to you. Heck, I would know that I have a very good reason, and that is because such-and-such happened or came up.
But the bottom line would still remain, that I never returned your phone call. I may have had every intention to get back to you just as soon as possible, but still… I haven’t. And you wouldn’t know that. For all you knew, I was just slacking off or didn’t take you seriously.
Maybe one reason I’m sensitive to this is because I’ve had plenty of experiences in the past several years where it seemed like something had fallen into a “black hole” of sorts. From everything to eBay buyers or sellers who seem to just fall off the map, or friends who just don’t return an e-mail, to businesses who, for whatever reason, can’t return a phone call. It can get really frustrating!
I make this mistake a lot, too, and there are plenty of times where I will honestly have every intention to make good on my plans to get back to a person, but something will come up that will postpone or prohibit those plans. Sometimes it might be my doing; other times it may be completely out of my hands. But the fact remains that, my fault or not, I’m not being as faithful as I would like to be.
So I guess I’m working on a couple of solutions. For one, I try to not commit to too much, to not bite off more than I can chew. If it’s not realistic that I’m going to be able to follow through on something, I shouldn’t commit to it in the first place. Secondly — and this is the biggest thing for me — is I try to communicate with people. Delays are inevitable, they really are. Things come up. Many times, we just can’t control them!
So if I am supposed to be dropping something in the mail, let’s say, and I just keep getting delayed, what I want to do in that situation is to keep you posted. Sometimes it will be embarrassing, if the only reason it’s being delayed is due to me procrastinating or me being disorganized. But still, you deserve to know.
In my experiences, things go over so much smoother when somebody just goes to a little bit of an effort to keep me updated on something. If I bought something online, I paid for it, and two weeks later I still haven’t received anything, something as simple as an e-mail or a phone call saying, “I’m sorry. Such-and-such happened, but we will mail this out tomorrow” — that can make such a huge difference to me. I stop worrying that my order just got delivered to a black hole or something.
So anyway, again, what I try to do (in bold because I’m not successful nearly as often as I would like to be :-|) is keep people updated. If I “owe” you something — a phone call, an e-mail, a package, a job (as in a deposition or any type of work-related thing), I really, really want to keep you informed as to how things are going and that, simply, I haven’t forgotten about you. If I’m extremely busy, way too busy to follow through like I had hoped, I normally should have enough time to just dash out a two-line e-mail to let you know that, hey, I’m working on it.
Okay, well, this has been all over the place, for sure, and so I’m going to just leave it at that. Bottom line — I love communication. I love clarity. Conversely, it bugs me to just have something never be returned with no explanation. I make mistakes, and I realize other people do, too. I try not to get too caught up in any one given thing because I have to realize that, hey, as I make mistakes, so too will other people. As I let people down, so too will people accidentally let me down. After all, each of us is a work in progress, so I think it’s helpful for me to remember that, that even the well-meaning people are bound to fail sometimes.
This just really makes me appreciate all of the reliable and consistent people I do know.