I received an email the other day from a person I have known for a long time. I am not especially close to this person, but I’ve always kind of liked him/her. The email was an introduction to someone else, someone who probably needs advice about careers. The email suggested I should try to get together with this person within the next three days (to help them, not me). And then it was signed basically "Hope you are well. Give me a call and we’ll grab lunch soon."
OK. So basically the email was "I have not talked to you in ages. I met a person and want to help her so I am introducing her to others. You should take time soon to meet her even though I have no idea what is going on in your life and did not ask in advance if you have the time to deal with this. Let’s do lunch. You call me."
I would hope that I am reading too much into this and my above interpretation was not the sender’s intention. But, it made me pause. We are a busy society. A society where we say "how are you?" and don’t listen for the answer. A society where we say "let’s get together" without saying "OK, when?" A society where because we have cell phones rather than actually making and committing to a plan we say things like "let’s get together Saturday. Call me on my cell and we’ll hook up" and MAYBE the meeting happens about 50% of the time.
This email continues that theme for me. It’s passive I-have-reached-out so tag you are it socializing. Let’s say it like it is – that is not a real invitation. A real invitation is someone calling or emailing and saying "Let’s get together – here are some times that work for me. What about you?" The email I got was throwing the responsibility of making the arrangement on the recipient, basically, a meaningless, baseless invitation.
I am sure I do this too – and I am not proud of that. Probably don’t even realize when I do it. So thank you, said emailer, for pointing it out to me and making me pause. I would like to get back to actual commitments. Taking responsibility and keeping them. And that means saying "No, I cannot do that" as opposed to "Maybe" and then not showing up. Maybe is OK – better than "Yes" and not showing up. But I don’t want to be that person – I want to be someone people can count on to do as I say I am going to do, and whose words and invitations are actually meaningful.