It’s time for a rant.
Every city has its own personality, culture, and social norms. Vancouver is a tricky one to define.
Vancouver has always been my home. Born and raised here, and lived here for the majority of my life. Still, I’ve had brief living stints in Sydney (Australia), London (Ontario), and Toronto (Ontario)… and spent extended vacations in LA and Seattle. And perhaps I am biased or have exposure to only certain groups of people in Vancouver… but I’ve noticed that there is a distinct lack of sincerity in Vancouver compared to other cities I have visited or lived in. Perhaps it is not even the city… perhaps it is a function of our generation or how we communicate through technology or even inherent Canadian behaviour. I’m not sure.
Here’s my problem in general: I’ve noticed a growing trend of people making promises or commitments without really meaning to keep them.
How many times have you heard the following?:
- Hey, let’s do lunch sometime.
- We should hang out!
- Oh, I’ll totally see you there.
- I’ll get back to you about that.
- I’ll shoot you an e-mail soon.
And the list goes on. Many of us are guilty of it — myself included — although in the past year I’ve really been trying to cut down on it.
So, People of Vancouver (and everywhere), here is what I propose: Let’s be sincere. Let’s do what we say we are going to do. And let’s say what we really mean.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BEING SINCERE
1. Learn to say ‘no’.
It seems simple, but it’s not. I feel like deep inside, us Canadians don’t really like to say ‘no’. We feel like it’s not nice to say no to other people. However, I’ve noticed that this is happening more and more: Person A invites Person B to an event. Person A is organizing the event, and needs to know how many people can go, for a number of various reasons (cost, headcount, reservations etc). Rather than tell Person A “No, I can’t go..”, Person B instead avoids Person A. Avoiding picking up the phone, texts, e-mails etc. So this is what I am telling all my friends: Just tell me NO. I won’t be offended if you can’t make it to something. I will still invite you to the next event. I won’t think you are a bad friend. All I am asking for, is for you to respect me enough to tell me the truth. And please, let me know as early as possible.
More often than not, when invited to something… whether it is a coffee date or a huge fundraiser… people know almost immediately whether or not they are likely to go. So just be honest. If you want to go, then say you can go and keep your word. But if you can’t go or even if you are on the fence, then just let me know the truth. Say, “You know, I’m probably not going to go so you should take me off the list. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”
2. Keep your word.
This one is actually simple. If you’ve committed yourself to something, then keep your word and go. Don’t extend fake commitments like “We should hang out!” unless you really want to, and are willing to go ahead and propose a date and time.
You will respect yourself much more for doing so, and so will your friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family members. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the guilt when you flake out on something. Besides, it’ll be easier to keep your word since you will have less engagements after learning to say ‘no’, right?
3. Don’t burn yourself out.
My guess is the number one reason people flake out on each other, is because they are burnt out. Too much to do, too many appointments, too many parties or dates… your calendar just seems chock full. If you’re overwhelming yourself with things to do, you’re not getting enough “you” time. Time to sit on the couch, to meditate, to do yoga, or just to do the little things that you love to do… for yourself. If you can keep yourself balanced between your needs and your social network’s needs, then it goes a long way to both parties being very happy. Limit your engagements to the things you really want to do, and your friends and your body (and peace of mind) will thank you for it.
4. If you must use technology to communicate, then use it in a straightforward way.
With Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, online event sites, even e-mail… it’s easy to commit to things when you don’t really intend on going. It will make it easier on everyone if you use technology in a clear way. For example, on a Facebook invite… try to select “Attending” or “Not Attending” rather than “Maybe Attending”. “Maybe Attending” just confuses the person who is organizing the event, and really cheats yourself on being clear on whether it is going to be something you commit to, or not. Basically, it’s a cop-out. Just choose yes or no. Try not to instinctively commit to things over other electronic mediums like SMS, Messenger, Twitter, etc unless you are absolutely sure your schedule is clear and you really want to go. If you can, call your friend or talk to them in person to confirm so they know you are serious about going or not going.
5. Tell the truth.
Being really honest with each other is something that I’ve noticed a lack of in Vancouver. When people leave events early, they say things like “Oh, I have to work early tomorrow” but what they really mean is, “I’m tired and want to get home to watch the episode of Glee that I recorded on my PVR.” When people give excuses for not going on events, they say “I can’t get the time of work” or “I’m busy that weekend” rather than just saying, “You know, I can’t really afford this right now.” Some people even say, “I can’t really afford this right now” when what they mean is, “I don’t want to go.” I think that we all have the ability to be mature and are able to accept the real truth. So tell your friends the truth. Chances are, they won’t be offended and they will more likely understand why you can’t go or why you have to leave. You will gain a reputation for integrity, and sincerity. I always appreciate honesty, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.
So that’s it folks. 5 simple steps… do you think you can do it? I have been making the commitment to myself to be sincere over the past year, but writing this blog post solidifies even more to myself how I am going to be sincere.
I honestly think that if more people made the commitment to be sincere, the world would be a better place. We would have closer friends, our coworkers would respect us more, and our reputations would be intact. It would make life more fun, and lead to better events and organization… and you know what? At the end of the day I think we could look in the mirror and feel a lot better about ourselves.
Can you make the commitment to be sincere?