Have you ever noticed that even when you think you are on the same page with someone, the outcome is often different than what you expected?
What follows unmet expectations is usually a breakdown in trust, relatedness and progress. That’s why it is always a good idea whenever we commit something to include a time and date. Many of our best intentions break down without them.
When you hear someone tell you “ASAP” — “as soon as possible” — do you really know what that means and by when it will happen? Usually, an expectation is set in motion that is rarely met by either party. To me, ASAP means in the next five minutes. What does it mean to you?
The other day, a business associate told me they needed to talk to me about something and would get back to me ASAP. I hung up the phone and wondered, “Do I have time to go to the gym? Should I stick around for the call? Will I ever hear back?” ASAP has urgency, sure, but it is completely devoid of accountability. The word “possible” relies on a very personal view of the world. And we don’t need Al Einstein to tell us that time is relative!
On a personal note, imagine this:
Sunday afternoon: Spouse 1 detects odor. “Honey, can you take out the trash?” Spouse 2: “Sure.” Intent is there, alright, but response could mean after the game, after a run, when I finish the book, in the morning, etc. Meanwhile, pan over to Spouse 1 — sighing and cranky.
Or, look at dating! Way back when, I think I would have preferred that instead of the guy saying, “I had fun. I’ll call when I get back in town,” he would have said, “I’ll call you in four days or not at all.” At least I know where I stand and resist bringing my phone to yoga class to not miss the call that’s not coming in anyway. After four days, time to move on, turn the page, get real.
Using times and dates aligns both parties, builds trust and swiftly moves the needle.
Don’t let ASAP leave you a sap.