One month ago today, I made a decision to engage in a thought experiment of sorts.
I decided that I would no longer ask the question “Are you sure?”
Are you sure you don’t want me to buy a watermelon?
Are you sure you don’t want me to shift around some calls and take you to the appointment?
Are you sure you only want to charge me that amount?
Because here’s what I had started to notice:
As I was asking the question, I had started to discern varying degrees of hope that the answer would be “Yes, I’m sure.”
Because when I would get really, really brutally honest with myself, the truth was:
I didn’t want to buy the watermelon that would sit uneaten on the counter attracting fruit flies.
I didn’t want to reschedule my calls.
I didn’t want to pay more than was initially requested.
Now, as always, there are exceptions. And the exception is this: If you really want it, I will do my best to make it happen.
You want that watermelon? It’s yours.
Me taking you to the appointment will bring ease to your life? I’ll be there fifteen minutes early.
You’re aware that you’ve been undercharging and are ready to make it right? I’m here for paying what’s fair.
But if I have to talk you into something I’m not really feeling?
Well, that’s resentment just waiting to happen, isn’t it?
When I started to get curious about why I had been asking, for oh-so-long if people were sure they didn’t want X-Y-Z, I also noticed that there was something else here too.
Arrogance in a presumption that I know better. Clearly you are not hearing me and clearly I know better so how about you reconsider your response.
For one month, I’ve not asked “Are you sure?”
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- My social contracts have become cleaner and clearer and far more efficient.
You say you want this. I say I want that. Let’s meet in the middle.
- Now when I make someone an offer, I know I need to be sure it’s pure and true.
- People are learning to take me up on what I offer right away, striking while the opportunity knocks, knowing I won’t ask twice.
- If the door has closed on the offer I made, they have the agency to come back and ask for it. And I will respond as is appropriate to me and the new circumstances.
Clean. Clear. Done.
And, best of all, I’m noticing people around me are also shelving “Are you sure?” - suspending the ever-prolonged dance of the polite. Especially my daughter. In one scant month, I can see her giving much more thought to making offers and receiving offers. The equivocating and qualifying and apologizing has been scaled way back. Win.
I invite you to shelve “Are you sure?” too. Try it for a month. See just how better your own social contracts feel.