Amazing Grace: How to Flake Gracefully


Stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea? Wedged with no chance of escape? Graceful people have escape routes!

Here you are, wedged. You have two very important obligations that have slammed up against each other on your calendar, on the same day at the same time.

It doesn’t matter how or why it occurred. It doesn’t make you bad THAT it occurred. All that matters  now is the fact that you are stuck, stuck, stuck.  How do you unstick yourself from this unfortunate situation?

A Graceful person has strategies for when they find themselves stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea; an exit strategy where they can sneak around the devil and sail off into the clear blue horizon with the wind at their backs.

Here are 5 things a Graceful person does When he or she has to flake Gracefully.

1) Triage!

Triage is what emergency room nurses and admittance personnel do when faced with multiple emergency situations. It basically means deciding who to treat first. Obviously if Joe Jones is bleeding from a nicked artery, you have to handle him fast or he is a goner.

You can let Jim Smith and his strep throat sit for awhile because he is not likely to bleed out or die any time soon. Despite his discomfort, he will be around a little bit longer than Joe Jones.

Every day we perform some sort of triage. We make constant decisions. Some things we have to assign greater importance to in order to weed out the relatively unimportant. If you haven’t done so, you may want to write out a list of your regular obligations that are the most important to you.

Here is a tip! The important obligations are the ones that YOU feel are important and would still be important without someone else making you feel guilty.

For example, let’s say you have a boring 2 hour tea date with your healthy mother in law every week. Let’s also say that she gets her undies in a bunch every time you have to cancel and makes you miserable for weeks afterward.

Her making you miserable has absolutely no bearing on whether or not you should cancel your date with her in a pinch.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks is more important or how they react. It is completely up to you, and only you to decide the importance. Then stick to your guns.

Life is never black and white. There are all shades of grey in between. Sometimes you have to recognize that someone is going to be unhappy. Guess what? Your job in life is NOT to make everyone happy. It is to do the right thing in your own estimation.

My primary focus in on my kids first and foremost. If I have promised them something, I have to follow through. If they are ill, I have to cancel plans and care for them. If they need me, I have to be there. I am their mother. It is my primary job.

Secondly, if I have promised to help someone else, I have to follow through as well. Help is a very hot button and failing to help when you have promised to is something that upsets people.

Obviously the amount of help needed and the dire straits of the person are taken into consideration. If I need to drop everything to rush to the side of a cancer stricken friend, that is what I have to do.

On the other hand, be wise about who you promise your help to. some people need constant, unending help and use it as a way to get your attention. This type f person would not be a big focus or me.

2) Give them a solution!

If you have to cancel an appointment or cancel when someone is counting on you, give them a solution. Don’t just hand them a  problem on a plate and say “Bon Appetit!”

People respect you and understand that you are a responsible person when you give them solutions. If possible, give them a couple of options to chose from so they feel that they have some control over the situation too.

3) Be Graceful when someone has to flake on you

If someone has had to cancel on you and you have been graceful and forgiving about it, chances are that you will be met with the same courtesy. If not, you can remind them (in a nice way) of your previous graciousness.

4) Be available to help others when they need to flake.

I call this building up Brownie Points. If you have covered for someone else several times because they got into a snag, you  are way more likely to be met with calm reassurance that “These things happen” when you have to go off and handle something.

People do remember the nice things you have done for them and are generally very willing to help you out when you need it.

Help find solutions when it’s not your problem. You can really build a team mindset when you do this. Teams naturally help each other.

When you have a habit of trying to make other’s lives easier, they will be willing to work with you.

5) Understand that stuff happens.

We are all busy. We are all trying to make things better. In our efforts to be all things to all people, sometimes we fail to meet all of our obligations.

When this occurs, don’t beat yourself to a bloody pulp over it. Just understand that you are a vital and helpful person and that sometimes we make mistakes and overbook.

If you were not a vital and helpful person, no one would care if you flaked on them. Nobody misses you if you are a jackass.

A point I brought up earlier that bears repeating is the fact that there are people who will leap with both feet on any opportunity to find fault with you. They will ensure that you REALLY understand just how much you have injured them or inconvenienced them and how bad you should be feeling about cancelling.

There are people in life who have decided that the only way to get by in life is by making people wrong and using their guilt to control them.

If you have lived a big portion of your life with one or more people who have chosen this as the way they handle others around them, you will feel overly guilty about any tiny mistake you make.

If you have helped others as much as you can and tried to give solutions and someone still makes you wrong about cancelling or making any mistake in life, this is a person you do not want around you.

Be on the lookout for those who use guilt to control you. Understand that it is very unhealthy to be close to someone like that unless they change their operating basis and treat you as you would treat them.

The Golden Rule goes both ways and it is unethical on your part to allow yourself to be mistreated.

Ok, now you know the secret of remaining Graceful even when you have messed up a bit. Use these secret rules wisely and you will be a Graceful person too.

Now Go Thou and Be Graceful!

XO Chris



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