woman holding hands out palms upThere seems to be a great deal of inconsistency in the world these days and it can sometimes lead to a sense of chaos and churn. While great things are born out of chaos and churn, there are times when consistency provides a more useful and clear message.

Think about the following situations

  • The dollar amount for an item is listed in on a website as $100 and in an email as $150
  • A leader signs an agreement and then someone else rescinds it
  • A parent tells a child I love you and with the next breath tells them they are worthless
  • A boss tells someone they did a great job but they receive no salary increase at review time

From my point of view, each of these scenarios has negative ramifications:

  • The inconsistent dollar amount leads to extra effort on behalf of the consumer to clarify details.
  • Rescinding an agreement can create re-work and a lack of trust in the individuals involved.
  • Mixed parental messages might lead a child to feel not good enough or unsafe in relationships.
  • Praise without compensation could lead to low morale and employee departures over time.

Mentally review situations in which you have experienced someone being inconsistent. For instance:

  • A mismatch between words and facial expressions (saying that’s great, but with a sneer).
  • A promised follow-up that never happens (saying I will drop you an email, but don’t).

How do those scenarios make you feel? Something between no reaction and frustration or bewilderment?

One scenario that has me a bit unclear stems from a few different one on one’s with people I’ve met in networking situations.

While not every meeting creates a connection or an interest in a product or service, I was told throughout my career to thank someone for taking the time to meet. When I send such a thank you and hear nothing back, I personally receive an inconsistent message. While they took an hour to meet, they couldn’t take a minute to reply back and thank me.

Possibly my note went to junk mail or was buried with others. However, when I am reminded of that person for a potential referral, that inconsistent message makes me wonder do they really want referrals from me? I also hesitate to refer someone who appears to not value my time.

In what parts of your life are you being inconsistent – family, friends, or colleagues? Maybe you are inconsistent with yourself – want to lose weight but eat that last cookie, save money but splurge on clothes? Another way to look at it is who in your life is sending mixed messages – spouse, boss, or parent? www.systemsofchange.com

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