[personal profile] nemorathwald
A few months ago, a former Penguicon Board member phoned me, who I had not spoken to in about four years. It turned out we were thinking about a lot of the same issues lately, and some of those issues included how to keep in touch with people, and who to keep in touch with.
What are your strategies for maintaining contact? Mine is to detect another person's level of reaching out to me, and reach out the same amount plus one step.

My strategy is due to my unique circumstances. I have a lot of projects and communities that I work on with other people. In my personal life, when someone stands me up or flakes out, I can simply decide to move on. Whereas in a group, not all of the other group organizers will see it that way. I need to plan around chain reactions in which the loss of one participant results in the loss of more.

Sometimes when someone proposes to work with you, you assume you can take that seriously at face value. But often, you can't. An important part of social calibration is recognizing when another person is not going to follow up; either they are engaging in a pretense to save face, or they are too optimistic about their availability. If I don't realize that, and I take them seriously and follow up, this can be perceived as pushy.

Not only do they have no recognition of the problem they just caused me, they also do not understand the solution. The problem is not that this person will not follow through, but that they will not inform me of it.

The simple solution to overcommitment is to admit when you're overcommitted. Say "I can't do what I wanted to do." Sometimes we all set up expectations we can't meet; it's normal. Keeping those expectations alive makes it much worse. All you have to do is say "I don't have time to work on this project until two months from now". By accepting your own limitations, you have released me from the nebulous semi-commitment of my time during those two months. I would be able to put it on my calendar to follow up then, and it's no longer occupying my mind until then.
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