"I've Been Really Busy" and Other Tall Tales

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:36
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In speaking with clients and colleagues about the importance we place on individuals keeping their commitments, we uniformly agree that this is key to maintaining good relationships. Many cite "I've been really busy" (IBRB) as being a common excuse given by those who haven't met a time-bounded obligation. What is it about IBRB that makes it the apparent go-to excuse to explain a failure to keep one's word? And why do most of us loathe it so much when it is used with us?

I suspect that IBRB is commonly trotted out because it is simple, vague and can't be refuted. A colleague told me that it bothers him in a very personal way. He said, "It says to me that you think your time is more important than mine. It says that you're not thinking about how your inability to keep your commitment might impact me or those who depend upon me."  Look, we all know that unexpected stuff can happen. Professionals can face emergencies and work crises. One can certainly understand that at times, someone might need to tend to a critical, pressing matter rather than keep a commitment. What's irritating is if they don't communicate this at all or take time to follow up even after their situation has stabilized. I think most of us would agree with the following simple philosophy: Do what you promise, completely and on time. If exceptions occur, communicate and negotiate these before a deadline. This seems pretty reasonable and respectful to me. How about you? The next time someone uses "I've been really busy" as an excuse to explain their failure to meet a commitment, consider calling them on it unless they can be more specific. If you like to use this excuse, cut it out. No one is impressed by it. Instead, just keep your word. 

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