You want to come at noon. I’m free at noon. So why can’t we make this work?
Ah, Canadian diffidence. It is the bane of my life.
Once again I received the question that raises my hackles, upsets my digestion and makes me want to greet you at the door with my patented Diffident Client Correcter, otherwise known as a two-by-four studded with rubber bullets. Except because of the question, we never get to meet, at least, not when you want to.
The question sounds as bland as “would you pass the salt, please?” but its tenor changes as soon as one notices the fluttering eyelids, the trembling, pouty lips and the décolletage that barely contains your bobbling, fulsome, secret desire. Then one becomes aware of the subtext.
The question is no longer “Would you pass the salt, please?” but is revealed as actually being, “How’s about you and me arm-wrestle in the next five minutes, sugar lips?”
Are you mystified yet?
I receive the following question at 11:11 AM: “Hi David, saw your website, and wondering what your availability is like today?”
Now, what does that question mean to you? I’m willing to bet it means: “What is your availability like today?” Today. Today is any time from now until around 11 PM. Right?
So I take it literally. “I have good availability today,” I respond. “Can you be more specific about the time you would like?”
I have a couple of tasks I need to schedule (shopping, cleaning, moving furniture, practising Beethoven on the piano, all the elements of my fantastically interesting life). But if they could tell me what time they want, I can accommodate anything.
Now, this has so far taken half an hour from my seeing the text, thinking of what needs to be done, responding. I hear back an hour later, that’s 12:45 PM.
And they respond, “Oh, I was hoping for 12, but I see it was too little notice. I’ll call again.”
Do you want to know why I am virtually bald? It ain’t my testosterone levels. It’s because of YOU.
Why do you ask “What is your availability today?” when what you actually want to know is “Are you available at 12?” Because if you had asked that, I would have said “YES!” and swung into high gear to prepare for you. It wasn’t at all too little notice.
It was, my little porridge-head, too much diffidence and too little logical thinking. You ruined your own chances of getting the time you wanted by not asking for it, because by the time we’d figured out what you actually wanted, it WAS too little notice, because the time had passed.
Do you see?
Ask, I beg you, for the time you actually want and ask for it upfront. Do not make me guess, mind-read, psychoanalyze or otherwise play mental footsie with you.
Here endeth the lecture.