The Board of Director Here at Spo-reflections sent an email of remonstrance stating they are tired of ‘W things’ and they are not interested in slightly improving their lives in any way (except wealth) and to ‘get on with it’ meaning write something more ‘entertaining’. Their tastes in entertainment resembles something found in a Roman arena. One of them (Sven I believe) recently discovered the wit of Oscar Wilde (patience above!) and he is entertaining the members at the weekly board meetings with his wit, boring the tunics off them. I suspect most of what’s said is lost on them. Their usual response to something not understood is not to ask for clarification but throw punches. Oh the pain.

I recently learned a Jedi-mind trick I’ve found useful at work for dealing with the no-shows. It is based on a restaurant that was losing money from folks making dinner reservations and failing to show up or calling to cancel. The lady in charge of making reservations would end the phone calls with ‘please call if you cannot make it and need to cancel”. This was changed to ‘will you promise to call if you cannot make it in and need to cancel?” Seldom does a person say ‘no, I won’t” to this. There is often a pause with a grudgingly provided ‘yes’. This cut down on the no-shows by 60%. People are less likely to bail if they feel they have given their word of commitment. I am applying this to patients who are slippery as catfish in Vaseline to get them to do what we agreed upon. “Will you promise to return in a month’s time that I may hear how you are doing?” or ‘can I get your word you will do what you just said?” I just started this and will be curious to see if this improves adherence to treatment recommendations.

I was raised your word was a good a signing a contract in blood and spit and it was unmanly and a disgrace to break your promise. If you had to back down, you told the person straight up and gave a ‘why’ and what else can be done in place of the broken promise. The notion of promise = certainty = honor so engrained that I am not one to give out promises glibly. I don’t make a lot of promises*. I might say I cannot promise that but I will do (fill in the blank) or at least try and I will get back to you if this isn’t working out.

On the other hand is my hummingbird brain that often forgets things which looks like breaking a promise but isn’t although both result in the same outcome viz. I didn’t do what I said I would. This happens at home when Someone asks me to do “X” and I don’t listen carefully and later he asks did I do “X” and no I forgot and there are ructions. This faux pas is less when I stop and repeat what’s being asked and I write it down or set a note to myself. He hasn’t gone so far as to apply the ‘will you promise me/give your word’ approach – which is a good idea.

There is the philosophical debate what does one do when you promise something but the circumstances change to make the promise a bad thing? I know a lot of people who are miserable in their marriages but still in it as they made a promise to stay together through sickness and health even as the other is doing all sorts of outrage including domestic violence. Of course this is an extreme, but you get the point.

I am not so good about making and keeping promises to myself; I do better with others. I suspect most people are like this.

That’s all I got to say on the subject. I promised myself every night I would stretch, floss, brush, do Spanish lessons and read before bed so I am off to keep these promises. The world doesn’t end if I don’t but I sleep better for keeping my promise.

*Politicians who make promises and break them are especially noxious to me. When I am asked why I wouldn’t vote for The Rotten Orange, I can think of many reasons but the one that comes to mind most was his promise (made more than once) he wouldn’t play golf when elected he would be working – and he didn’t. “He’s a man who doesn’t keep his promises” said in the most somber tone.