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The Unreliability of Other

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Oluseyi

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Yesterday (Thursday, April 7) I had a cookout. Turnout was interesting; the "friends" who all assured me they'd be there in a minute never showed up, but far less familiar people made good on their committments to attend. This got me thinking about dependability and task assignment.

I had asked one of my friends to get some potato salad, since I had provided the venue, bought and prepared all the meat and supplied free juice and soda, too (it was a B.Y.O.B.). He never came through. Imagine, if you will, founding a production entity with friends, then delegating a critical task to one of these individuals. Imagine he doesn't come through, and the production is jeopardized as a consequence. What do you do?

Generally speaking, "management" is not "friends" with the workforce, and this is why. Familiarity breeds contempt, even in the most informal of contexts; with an increase in responsibility comes and increase in consequence, and it becomes too risky to foster excessive accessibility between PHBs (yes, that would be you, intrepid entrepreneur) and grunts. I think the key lies in being friendly, but maintaining that clear sense of distance and difference.

When employees do what is expected of them - and when you give them every necessity to maximize that likelihood - then a genuinely genial atmosphere emerges, and better work is done. But it remains the responsibility of the management/administration to assign tasks according to demonstrated ability (I knew my friend was often unreliable, so I made sure his task was non-critical), to set reasonable deadlines and to accept the following maxim: everything good is a result of their work, every failure is your fault. (If you had a bad worker, you should have fired him before he endangered your overall production.)



I attended a Careers in Media Seminar on Wednesday. It didn't tell me a whole lot that was new, but I did find out that my university has a Small Business Development Program, where I can run my business plan by the staff and receive feedback as well as resources to shore up my deficiencies. I'll be visiting on Monday and share what I learn - or don't.
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Welcome to the wonderful world of Flakes(tm).

Flakes are a subsection of humanity who have an undeveloped ability to schedule anything, mostly due to a combination of immaturity, narcissism, and an undeveloped empathy lobe in the brain.

The worst part is that flakes are either oblivious of how they're treating those around them, or they think they're cute in a "Stimpy" sort of way.

Best I can recommend is to avoid them until they grow up. If you insist on associating them, relegate them to a "never trust them to do anything" level.

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There was a psychological study once that showed people were more impressed when a stranger did them a favour than when their friend did. Extrapolating from that, you can suggest that strangers might feel more obliged to honour commitments they've made, because of the assumption that it will make more of an impression on you compared to a friend honouring that same commitment. (And obviously there's a continuum between the values of 'friend' and 'stranger'.)

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Original post by johnhattan
Welcome to the wonderful world of Flakes(tm).
Interestingly, I had another experience with this yesterday. A friend asked me to loan him some cash to hold him over until he got his next paycheck. He was supposed to drop by my place to pick it up on Saturday, but that got hairy as I had to head to the city to pick up a friend who was spending the weekend. On Sunday, I stopped by his house and called him three times, but he was either asleep or not home (though his girlfriend's car was outside, and I called her, too). Finally, he calls me to ask if I'm home. I affirm, and he says they'll be by in about 20 minutes.

At this point, I wanted to play some basketball, so after waiting about ten minutes, I call him and tell him I'm headed to the courts, and to meet me there. Time: 7:48 PM.

I get home around 9 PM, and just as I'm about to hop into the shower, he calls. I ignore, because I know exactly what he's going to say: "Yo, I looked for you at the court, but you weren't there." He calls again while I'm in the shower, then once more while I'm getting dressed. I turn to my friend and tell her that he'll probably just drop by, and less than five minutes later my roommate knocks to tell me someone's looking for me. And, as expected, the first thing he says is "What happened?"

Heh.

I look him dead in the eye and say "Don't be stupid. I got home at 9, it's almost 10 now. Don't come up in here with that weak 'I went looking for you' shit. You were late. Very late. Say so. 'Son, my bad. Something came up and I couldn't make it.' Grow the fuck up." He can't say anything, because he knows I'm right. So I hand him the $40 and tell him I'll talk to him later.

Quote:
Original post by Kylotan
There was a psychological study once that showed people were more impressed when a stranger did them a favour than when their friend did. Extrapolating from that, you can suggest that strangers might feel more obliged to honour commitments they've made, because of the assumption that it will make more of an impression on you compared to a friend honouring that same commitment. (And obviously there's a continuum between the values of 'friend' and 'stranger'.)
My father once said to me something to the effect of "Son, it's good that you have friends and enjoy their company. But strive to surround yourself with people who contribute to and support your goals. The rest can be acquaintances; you can have a night out every now and then with them, but don't make them the people you rely on." As I've grown older, that has become my mantra (which might explain why I don't hesitate to be confrontational), so these "friends" who disappoint get knocked down to "acquaintance."

I only have one friend in Stony Brook right now. Everyone else is benched because of varying levels of immaturity, unreliability... "narcissism and underdeveloped empathy lobes" [smile].

I agree with the study, though. We expect our friends to go to extra lengths for us, and we believe that they expect the same from us. We don't expect as much from strangers, so we're pleasantly surprised when they exceed our expectations.

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