Kim Lajoie's blog

Know yourself – for the sake of others

by Kim Lajoie on March 1, 2012

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I recently had an experience where an artist let me down. Put simply, she promised something that she couldn’t deliver, and didn’t give me a chance to find alternatives in time.

This is what happened:

  1. I asked her if she could do a thing for me,which needed to be done by a certain date, and would require quite a bit of back-and-forth between us via email beforehand. She said yes.
  2. I sent her the first part by email.
  3. … and didn’t receive a reply (or any other communication) for about two weeks.
  4. I sent an SMS confirming receipt of the email. She said she had, but had been busy with foreseeable activities. She said she’d try to get to it before the due date.
  5. The due date arrived without any further correspondence.

So what really happened here?

I’m an optimist (sometimes I suffer for it), so I’ll assume that – without any further contrary evidence – the artist had good intentions. When I first contacted her about this, she genuinely believed that she’d have time to do the thing.

As time went on, her belief was proved wrong.

Which is fine. Sometimes we get things wrong. Sometimes we make an incorrect judgement. Sometimes we want to be optimistic. It’s ok to make mistakes.

It wasn’t the initial optimism that let me down, nor was it being busier than expected (hoped?). What let me down was the fact that she didn’t tell me enough for me to realise that I needed to make (or at least line up) alternative arrangements. When a person tells me s/he can do something, I want to believe s/he can actually do it – especially when s/he doesn’t have a history of poor judgement or broken commitments. As much as I like being an optimist (and it’s important to be an optimist), things like this make me not want to trust people. And I don’t like being untrusting.

I don’t yet know why she didn’t contact me to tell me she wouldn’t be able to do it. Maybe she forgot about it entirely (and was too embarrassed to tell me she’d forgotten). More likely it was a combination of optimism and denial. I’ll find out when I chat to her next.

But, you know what? It works both ways.

I was optimistic that it would all work out. I was in denial that the early indicators (lack of correspondence, unqualified promises) would be predictive. I wasn’t defensive enough in actively keeping in touch and making alternate arrangements.

And… I was arrogant enough to start writing this post about a mistake someone else made, when I made the exact same mistake myself.

-Kim.

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