There 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?
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