Has anyone ever flaked out on you? Do you have friends who say they’ll help out, be there, do something, and then they don’t? I call them “50:50 no-shows” and sometimes I think I’m being a bit too generous. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and disheartening to someone like me who’s always done my best to show up.
Long before I read “The Four Agreements,” I understood the first principle of that book, which is to “be impeccable with your word.” That means integrity, and I’m afraid the concept isn’t practiced as much as it used to be. Like being on endless hold with my cable company (I’m not going to name names, but it rhymes with socks), listening to their crappy music replete with intermittent interruptions to say “your call is very important to us.” I don’t think so. And why then, was I surprised when I called the trash company to ask about their bulk pick-up dates and a real human being answered the customer service line on the second ring and was actually pleasant and helpful? Have we come to a point in time when integrity is unusual?
I’m willing to cut my flaky friend some slack. She had the best of intentions when she committed to bringing the wine to our book club, however when the day arrived, she cancelled, and I had to make an emergency run to the liquor store when I had way too much else to do. Why did she flake? Was she having a bad day? Or was she passively-aggressively trying to end our friendship? If she was feeling nervous, depressed, or stressed about anything other than the book club, she should be treated with understanding and compassion. On the other hand, if she wanted to break up with the book club (or with me), she could have done so with integrity.
Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” While the word “honesty” has a straight forward imeaning, I believe that “morals” and “ethics” are subjective. So let’s leave morals and ethics out of this discussion and concentrate solely on honesty. Which leads me to wonder why do some people lack integrity?
My answer has to do with intentions. When I commit to volunteering every Tuesday night, it is with the full intention that I will be there every Tuesday night. It is also with the utmost integrity that I make the commitment because I am, first and foremost, being honest with myself. I can and will be there every Tuesday night. It seems to me that the flaky people we deal with, sometimes on a daily basis, might actually have a problem being honest with themselves. As recipients of their flakiness, we generally dismiss the person without attempting to dig deeper into the underlying cause.
At the end of the day, the only person whose integrity I can control is my own. And I do so by carefully choosing my words. Do you?
Excellent blog! Thank you Nancy for putting into words exactly what I have been wanting to say for a long time.
I was brought up to have not only to have integrity but to respect other people’s time. I will be sharing this, oh and thank you for letting us know that the trash company actually answers their phone. I have more “respect” for them because of you sharing this story.
Thank you, Jill! I’ve personally encountered two “flakes” in the past few weeks who inspired me to write this. I’m glad you were brought up the same way I was. It shows!
Excellent read! Thanks for getting the word out!
WOW this really hits home. If I was the person blowing off the book club, I would have made sure that the wine would have been delivered even in my absence. This sounds like more of a personal blow-off. I wish I knew why people commit to things and then do not make a plan to follow-through. I guess it is a numbers game and follow the wise words that if you cannot change the people, then change the people. Good, thought-provoking read!
Thank you! It still surprises me when people don’t follow through with their commitments. I like “if you cannot change the people, then change the people.” Wise words.
Mancy, you know how I feel about flakes and I have been burned by a couple. This is a great topic, thank you for posting.
Yes, Missy, I know it’s a pet peeve of yours as well. It still amazes me at how many people lack integrity. Thanks for your comment!
It is really sad to see either ethics or morality treated so trivially. The very view that a promise is of no worth or used as a deception is an ethics problem. The view that even if it costs us that words with deeds when it is the right thing to do, is at the heart of morality itself. Without either ethics or morality, truth itself may have no value.
The number of new laws created to cover new depths of abuse created by Harvaard graduates with defective ethics training is a sad trend.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Integrity and ethics are indeed synonymous, and the lack thereof is, as you stated, a sad trend.
Your blog article on integrity is spot on. I have a writer acquaintance, Alicia Mejia from Las Vegas who took an advance on a writing assignment and didn’t even get close to meeting her contractual commitment. She owes me in excess of $2000 and she’s still running and hiding from her debt. Now there’s a woman of low integrity.
Well said my friend you always are right on point. Unfortunately there is a lot of flakes out there!
Sad but true!
Nail on the head. Frustrates me when people speak “to please” or pacify without intention to make their word meaningful. I had an office system of “teaching” that first appointment missed or late I would reschedule seamlessly, but would talk about the value of trust in their intention and my expectation; second, I would often bill per my office policy and/or see them briefly and re-emphasize that appointments are verbal contracts and require them to fulfil their side. If it happened a 3rd time I would invite them to pay in full for their missed session and if they were willing, to talk about process resistance, maladaptive behavior and living in chaos rather than with a plan. Frankly I seldom ever lost a client because of it and found the richness of integrity/contract/logic to make compelling therapeutic material – especially then when we got to the marriage contract issues. . .
I’ve had only a couple of no-call-no-show clients. It’s frustrating, that’s for sure! Intentions have a lot to do with integrity. Thank you for sharing your insight.
That is one of the perks of growing up in a town of 750 people in farm country.I was brought up hearing “your word is your bond” and saw most people lived up to it. Your word and a hand shake consummated most deals. Everyone knew who they could trust and who they couldn’t. Personally I will break laws before I will break my word. Was raised to say what I mean and expect that from others. Doesn’t always work in the big city.
You’re right, Jay. Small towns are very different from big cities. Not that it should matter, right? I appreciate your integrity.