Interpersonal Edge: Hate the flakes who won't commit? Force the issue
Sunday, October 4, 2015

 By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
  Q: When I look at the long lil s Q: People who won't commit drive me crazy. They seem to think I'm waiting in suspended animation - just in case they decide to follow through! Is there a strategy to get flaky people to either make a commitment or leave me alone? I'm so tired of organizing my schedule around people who won't make a plan and won't go away, either.
  A: I teach clients two tips for getting flaky people to stop dinking around on commitments. First, always set up a drop-dead date (after which you are no longer available). Second, always create a reward and a consequence to get flakey people to follow through.
  The drop-dead date is a way you can escape should a flake not make a commitment. Make it clear to the person you're emailing, calling, or speaking to that after a specific date you won't be available. Then, if they don't circle back, you're free to make other plans.
  The reward-and-consequence system requires flakes to put some skin in the game if they want to get any of your time and attention. You can require part or full payment in advance, offer limited availability, or have a "competing" project that needs the same amount of time. If the flake snoozes, they'll lose the opportunity to work with you.
  When people who prefer avoiding commitments discover that you won't play ball, they either commit or go away. If they withdraw, you were never going to get a commitment from them anyway and you can stop wasting your time.
  People who truly want what you have to offer in the workplace understand that they have to commit to benefit. They also inherently understand that people who are good at what they do refuse to play the "hurry up and wait" game.
  Don't make the common mistake of believing that if someone avoids commitment at the start of a relationship that this is a temporary problem. People show you who they are right away in business relationships. If you fail to pay attention, you'll regret it. It will soon be clear that this is how your new client, employer, or colleague will treat you forever.
  If you put up with flakiness in a business relationship, perpetrator may decide that your tolerance is agreement. You may have thought you were showing generosity, but the flake will see your tolerance as permission. 
  We all have the right in and out of the workplace to be treated with respect. Flaky people like to use excuses that start with the words, "Stuff happens." However, "stuff" mostly happens when we're not paying attention. When others don't pay attention and want you to pay the price, you have the right to decline!
  If we negotiate for respect, we encourage people who are disrespectful to clean up their act or go bother someone else. 
  The last word(s)
  Q: I've been vigorously working with the tools you teach in your column and am finding my work life so much calmer and productive. I almost feel guilty when I see others in chaos. Over time, will I eventually be sucked back into the workplace storm?
  A: Probably, but you've learned how to find the eye of that storm. We can't avoid turbulence in the workplace, but we can learn where calm reigns.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the October 4, 2015 - October 17, 2015 edition.

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