One of my biggest pet peeves about people nowadays is how flaky some people are. My theory is that with how easy it is to communicate with people today – be it social media, calling someone (no wait, who does that?) and texting someone, it’s so much easier to pull out of something at the last minute.
Of course, I have been guilty of this in the past, and it’s something I’ve made a conscious effort to stop doing in the past year. What I’m talking about is when you’ve made a commitment to someone – and no, I don’t mean marriage – I mean when you’ve agreed to do an activity together, to eat something together, to go somewhere together, you damn well show up. And hey, it might also be nice if you showed up on time!
I’ve noticed for things planned in advance, a lot of people agree at the beginning. 10 people agree to have dinner, and then when the day of the dinner rolls around, there people cancel when the other 7 are sitting are already seated at the table.
“Sorry, I can’t make it because work is so hectic!”
“Sorry, me too! Enjoy yourselves, guys!”
Now, unless you’re extremely sick or you have a genuine emergency, I don’t think it’s cool at all to cancel in the last minute. I think there’s a huge lack of respect when you do that. If other people have managed to set a time aside for you and pushed their plans around for you only to have you not turn up, it’s just plain rude. You’re also sending the message to people that you don’t give a damn about their time, and that your time is more important than their time. Yes, I have had loads of occasions where I’ve agreed to something a week in advance and when it was time to go, I felt incredibly lazy and tempted to cook up an excuse of being sick. The only thing that stops me from doing this is that I HATE it when people do that to me, and I damn well am not going to do it to them. Also, usually when I force myself to roll out of my couch and head on out, I always end up having a good time.
Don’t misinterpret this as saying yes to every invitation. I’m a firm believer of only saying yes when you genuinely want to do something with a person, and then sticking to your word!
A few years ago, I was caught in a cycle of constantly saying yes to everyone. I had breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper plans all weekend long and it exhausted me. Now, I loved the people that I was seeing but it was just exhausting after a while. Also, I didn’t realize it then, but I’m the kind of person that requires a lot of alone time. I need copious amounts of me time to be able to unwind and reflect. When I’m really tired and I keep going out with people, it just completely drains me and I’m no fun to be around.
So, say yes when you mean it. And stick to it. It’s okay to say no to people, as long as they’re aware of it and they’re not wasting a whole load of time waiting for you only for you not to turn up. It’s basic courtesy.
One of the things I really love about Japan is how punctual the Japanese are. This is a little terrible, but when I’m going out with my Japanese friends I always try to make sure I’m either on time or early. In Japan, it’s seen as a huge mark of disrespect when you’re late and I agree that it is. However, when I’m out with my non-Japanese friends I tend to be a little looser with my punctuality – also because with some people, you KNOW they are going to be late and you don’t want to be waiting for half an hour.
I do feel that timing and punctuality is very cultural. In Malaysia and
Singapore, people are generally unpunctual. This has always irritated me to no end, because a lot of times I found myself on time, and waiting for the unpunctual party to show up. Half an hour later, when The Unpunctual One rolls up, I’m often seething and furious at having been made to wait like an idiot. The thing is, in Malaysia being late is not seen being disrespectful and rude, and in fact is pretty acceptable. There’s even a term for it – ‘Malaysian timing’.
Now, I suppose showing up late is better than not showing up at all and sending a last-minute, harried text about how ‘you can’t make it’. So, people, can we just stop being flaky when all it requires is a teeny bit of discipline? Remember, flakes are for breakfast, not for friends.