Author Topic: Is it ok to back out of a commitment if the other person is being inflexible?  (Read 8263 times)

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lowspark

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Do most people have such antiseptic relationships with their friends that a little give and take is forbidden? I really don't see anything wrong with LifeOnPluto's end of the conversation. This kind of thing goes on between friends all the time among people I know. Sometimes an agreement is arrived at, sometimes a compromise is made, sometimes one gives in to the other or vice versa.

But yeah, if I found myself giving into someone all the time and never having the favor returned, at some point, I'd feel the urge to stand my ground and have the option to decline if need be. I agree with PPs who said that you can just say no at this point, citing not enough time to make it worthwhile.

And maybe in the future, do stand your ground more. You've agreed to meet for a beer and then she changes it to coffee? Just stick with the beer plan. "Oh, we said beer and that's what I'm set for. We can do coffee next time, just let me know in advance so I'll be in the mood."

TootsNYC

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I think the OP did "harp on it."
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Carrie wrote back: "[LifeOnPluto], I never leave my desk before 5pm unless I absolutely need to, such as picking up my car from the mechanic before it closes. I am generally expected to work between 9am and 5pm."

I replied: "Our organisation lets us work our hours between 7am and 7pm, so if your supervisor is insisting you work between 9am-5pm every day, they're in the wrong. In any event. I'm sure no one would begrudge you leaving work slightly early on a Friday before you're going on holiday."

Carrie: "Nonetheless, I don't want to leave work before 5pm."

I think she shouldn't have said that reply. However, it's relatively small rudeness. I believe in the "give and take" that lowspark mentions. I don't love the OP's tone; it feels lecture-y to me, and it sounds like it did to Claire, bcs she was pretty curt in return (including my favorite conversation ender, "nonetheless").

I'm more concerned that this is being labeled an inflexibility that the OP resents.

But I'm totally with her on the idea that she can back out of the drink, and that this is too rushed to enjoy.

I agree w/ the give-and-take aspect lowspark mentioned. However:changing beer to coffee? If one of you feels strongly about the choice of refreshment, then I think it's picayune to insist on sticking to beer; you'd need a bigger-stakes example to get me on board--and I *would* get on board with a bigger-stakes example. Like this half hour in the OP's example--I'm on board with that as a reason to back out of or decline a get-together.
    And I'd agree with any larger trend as a problem (but I'd argue against including this as an example of inflexibility, actually, contradictory as that may seem).

lowspark

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To me, it's not about how trivial the change is, beer to coffee, or whatever. It's about changing the plan in the moment, which is what I'm assuming is happening.

From the OP:
Quote
when we've met for a beer, Carrie has said she'd prefer going for a coffee instead

So it sounds like they agree to meet for a beer, they show up at the beer place and then friend says, I don't want beer, let's do coffee instead.

So ok, I might go along with that once. Or twice even. But then it would be, well, no, we agreed to meet for a beer. Here we are at Beer Bar. Just order a coffee here and I'll get my beer.

So it's not so much about beer vs. coffee as it is about plans having been made, showing up for said plans, and then an attempt is made to change the plans on the spot.

TootsNYC

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Since what you're describing is the trend, I'm totally on board with that reaction.

If it were a one-off, I'd look askance at the concept of getting shirty about it. I'd probably be OK w/ a counter of "But I've been looking forward to a beer!"

DanaJ

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I don't think it's rude of the OP to decline while they were still ironing ou tthe details. The reminder of company policy, however, was a bit on the rude side.

In any case, am I the only one who find's Carrie's initial invitation a bit baffling to begin with? If I can't leave the office until 5:00 and I must be on my way to the the airport by 5:30, I can't imagine why I'd try to squeeze in an extra commitment that was non-essential. It seems overly optimistic to think that Carrie and the OP could have gone to have a drink or coffee with the clock ticking down so close to zero hour.

I don't find it strange. If the bar is near where they work, Carrie is probably thinking, "Gee, I'd rather grab a drink with a friend to kill time before I have to catch the bus instead of cooling my heels in the office for 20 minutes."

Oh, I agree if the bar is close (i.e. nextdoor), then certainly that would be the preferable option. But the OP said it was a ten-minute walk to the bar, then another ten-minute walk to get the the airport bus from the bar. So it seems pretty unrealistic for Carrie to try and set up an outing when it's pretty much guaranteed that by the time the wait staff says "Welcome, what can I get you?", she'll have to leave right away. Ten minutes is very tight for even attentive wait staff to take your order, get it to you, leave you to drink it, then bring you the bill and ring through the transaction.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 03:55:02 PM by DanaJ »

LifeOnPluto

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Thanks for the replies everyone. It seems the majority consensus is that I overstepped in my second email. I have not pressed (and will not press) the matter further. I respect Carrie's decision to never leave before 5pm. I guess I was just taken aback at her stance, given our workplace has such a great reputation for flexibility - I have never, ever, heard of any manager instructing an employee to always work between 9am-5pm. But that's no excuse for me overstepping - I accept that now.

And yes, in the past, there have been several instances where Carrie has asked for a concession (in her favour) and I've done my best to be flexible. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following examples:

1. The beer example. I agreed to change it to coffee instead, because I figured friendship is more important that drinking the beverage of my choice;

2. I was giving a dinner party, which started at 7pm. Carrie rang me that morning, and asked if she could come early at 6pm, because "she'd be in the neighbourhood then". This was pretty inconenient for me, but I made it work, because Carrie is my friend, and it suited her better to arrive at 6pm.

3. Carrie invited 5 of her best friends (including myself) to her birthday party, which started at 7.30pm. The day before, she contacted us, asking us if we could come for afternoon tea instead at 3pm, as she'd been invited to another party that night. Again, I (and the other guests) agreed to that change.

Yet on the rare occasions where I ask for a concession that would convenience me better (eg "Can we meet for lunch at 12.30, rather than 12.45pm?") Carrie usually finds some reason why it's absolutely not possible. I think in future, I will be a little less flexible myself. 

TootsNYC

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I think that's a very sensible response to these occurrences.

If nothing else, it'll keep you from resenting her.

wolfie

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I'm not even sure she was being rude about bringing up the flex time policy.  If it was someone you didn't know well then no - I wouldn't say that but this was a friend and most people are more open and less guarded with their friends. 



To me it falls under "interesting assumptions".  I work at a flex-time company.  I can still have a personal policy of always working til 5 for any number of reasons.   Kindly don't assume that I'm either ignorant of company rules or that I'm unable to have a open conversation with my supervisor.

I didn't get the impression she was assuming that at all....but neither of us was there to get the nuances of the conversation.  It would have been rude if she harped on it....but it was a little exchange in which the OP ultimately respected Carrie's policy of working straight through until 5:00.

I just don't see the harm in asking as long as you know when to back off.  I also work for the Public Service and have flex time.  I understand people choose their preferred hours and normally stick to them but that the flexibility is there when you need it.

At any rate the OP wasn't asking about whether her exchange regarding flex time was rude - it's done and over with and presumably no hard feelings about it.

I think that's where I'm falling under too. If the OP had continued to harp on the flextime, I think that would have been rude. But I've had conversations with coworkers at flex time where I've said "It's so nice to get out of here at 5, because I come in at 8 & it's so nice to do that with the flex time". & then they say "gee, I wish I could do that, but Boss won't let us" and I say "Boss can't *not* let you without a good reason" & they say "no, Boss doesn't like flextime, and said that they can choose to not let us work flextime, since it's up to each supervisor to decide that policy", and that last italicized part is totally untrue. According to company rules, Boss HAS to evaluate any request for flex time and can only veto (or modify it) if there is a good, supportable reason. AND, a good reason isn't "Boss likes to have people here at 9am" or even "Boss wants a certain meeting to be at 9am every day, so everybody has to be there at 9, so no flextime later than 9 can happen".

I'm imaging that the OP wanted Carrie to know that Boss can't do that, since some bosses do lie about it. But once Carrie shut that down, then I think it'd been rude to continue, which the OP didn't.

I also think, in the case of the OP agreeing & then changing her mind...I've definitely initially said yes to something before I did the mental math. It sounds like OP likes Carrie enough to jump at the chance to hang out a little, but upon doing that mental math, it's just not really workable, and kind stressful to rush from one place to the next. How much talking & drinking could you really do in 10 minutes?

Sure the rules may say that Boss cannot deny a request for flex time without a good reason, but that doesn't mean he can't make my life miserable if I press him on something he doesn't want to do. Sometime the rules may be on your side, but reality says it isn't going to work that way.

SoCalVal

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Sure the rules may say that Boss cannot deny a request for flex time without a good reason, but that doesn't mean he can't make my life miserable if I press him on something he doesn't want to do. Sometime the rules may be on your side, but reality says it isn't going to work that way.

Thank you.  I wish people would realize that situations aren't all black and white.  Just because you're right or have policy on your side, doesn't mean there won't be a cost for pushing for that thing/doing the right thing.



wyliefool

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3. Carrie invited 5 of her best friends (including myself) to her birthday party, which started at 7.30pm. The day before, she contacted us, asking us if we could come for afternoon tea instead at 3pm, as she'd been invited to another party that night. Again, I (and the other guests) agreed to that change.


Wow. No, I don't think so. I have to mow the lawn. Or wash my hair.

Cancelling your own party because a better offer came along?? Did anyone accept any future invitations of that sort from her? I sure wouldn't.

Lynn2000

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3. Carrie invited 5 of her best friends (including myself) to her birthday party, which started at 7.30pm. The day before, she contacted us, asking us if we could come for afternoon tea instead at 3pm, as she'd been invited to another party that night. Again, I (and the other guests) agreed to that change.


Wow. No, I don't think so. I have to mow the lawn. Or wash my hair.

Cancelling your own party because a better offer came along?? Did anyone accept any future invitations of that sort from her? I sure wouldn't.

Oh no, not canceling her own party, just moving it to a more convenient time (for her) so she could have both parties. That would irritate me as well. Every once in a while weird stuff happens and it's nice to accommodate your friends; but it seems like a pattern of almost last minute changes with her, while she doesn't seem willing to accommodate others in turn. I think that would be tiring.
~Lynn2000

DanaJ

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Oh no, not canceling her own party, just moving it to a more convenient time (for her) so she could have both parties. That would irritate me as well. Every once in a while weird stuff happens and it's nice to accommodate your friends; but it seems like a pattern of almost last minute changes with her, while she doesn't seem willing to accommodate others in turn. I think that would be tiring.

Either way, it still boils down to changing commitments to accommodate a better offer (yes, when it comes to priorities, you get the second-place ribbon). Better-Offer Syndrome (BOS) really chaps my hide. Those are also the people who don't RSVP or confirm plans until the very last minute, just in case a better offer comes along in the meantime.

LifeOnPluto

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3. Carrie invited 5 of her best friends (including myself) to her birthday party, which started at 7.30pm. The day before, she contacted us, asking us if we could come for afternoon tea instead at 3pm, as she'd been invited to another party that night. Again, I (and the other guests) agreed to that change.


Wow. No, I don't think so. I have to mow the lawn. Or wash my hair.

Cancelling your own party because a better offer came along?? Did anyone accept any future invitations of that sort from her? I sure wouldn't.

Oh no, not canceling her own party, just moving it to a more convenient time (for her) so she could have both parties. That would irritate me as well. Every once in a while weird stuff happens and it's nice to accommodate your friends; but it seems like a pattern of almost last minute changes with her, while she doesn't seem willing to accommodate others in turn. I think that would be tiring.

Yep, she rescheduled her own birthday party, so she could attend the other party. That's a whole 'nother story!

wyliefool

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3. Carrie invited 5 of her best friends (including myself) to her birthday party, which started at 7.30pm. The day before, she contacted us, asking us if we could come for afternoon tea instead at 3pm, as she'd been invited to another party that night. Again, I (and the other guests) agreed to that change.


Wow. No, I don't think so. I have to mow the lawn. Or wash my hair.

Cancelling your own party because a better offer came along?? Did anyone accept any future invitations of that sort from her? I sure wouldn't.

Oh no, not canceling her own party, just moving it to a more convenient time (for her) so she could have both parties. That would irritate me as well. Every once in a while weird stuff happens and it's nice to accommodate your friends; but it seems like a pattern of almost last minute changes with her, while she doesn't seem willing to accommodate others in turn. I think that would be tiring.

I consider changing an evening party to an afternoon 'tea' to be cancelling the party and making a new, lesser one. Still washing my hair.  ;)

Lynn2000

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Yeah, I just meant, Carrie was rearranging things--and getting other people to rearrange things--so she could have two parties that day instead of the one she'd already planned. Definitely rude, IMO. If I were planning to attend, I'd almost rather she outright cancel, because I might have other things I planned to do that afternoon (four hours before the original start time), which now have to be moved around.
~Lynn2000