We’ve all overcommitted at times and most people find it hard to admit. Usually people tell a little white lie to back out of something – unwell? Car trouble? Computer malfunction? I’ve done it and heard worse, although I have a karmic, bad juju fear that what I say will actually happen!
Often we don’t mean this to happen, the plate is just too full or too daunting. You meant it when you said you’d make that speech, deliver that extra project or jump that hurdle when you realistically can’t. These days I try to keep my priorities clear – family over work; say no upfront if I’m unsure I’ll deliver.
Biting the bullet and admitting you’re overworked or overwhelmed isn’t easy but we’re all human. So how do you back out of a commitment you’ve already made, gracefully? You tell the truth.
It’s in the other person’s best interests to know the truth so they can go to the contingency plan, or make one. It’s always best to call personally and explain. Send an email or sms if you must, but personal contact is always ideal when letting anyone down. Offer your assistance if you can, be specific about the status of what you have already completed if relevant and simply apologise if you feel you should. Adults can handle the truth and disappointments, and it’s a grown up thing to do to deliver it properly.