Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Learning How to Say No Instead of Flaking

I’m experiencing what I know is a fairly typical behavior pattern for teen unpaid or paid interns. The disappearing act.

I’ve seen this pattern before. A teen applies for and gets an internship and is gung ho. Then homework piles up, or hanging out with friends becomes more important, or parents want some chores done at home.

Instead of being professional and emailing or calling the workplace and admitting the teen can’t fulfill the internship, the teen takes a powder. Doesn’t answer emails or phone calls – and just doesn’t show up. Or worse – the teen comes up with such a lame excuse that everyone knows it’s a lie.

What is it about human nature that makes people more likely to choose being a weasel or a liar rather than telling the simple truth?

If you’re a teen in a similar situation, tell the truth. Thank the person for the opportunity and explain that you can’t give the position your all at this time. Most people would rather not have an intern than have an intern who is distracted and not really “into” the position.

If you bow out gracefully, you’ve probably left with your reputation intact. If you just disappear into thin air, you risk leaving a lasting negative impression. And especially in the age of the internet, a negative impression can be broadcast far and wide.

Practice speaking up rather than keeping quiet. The reputation you save will be your own.

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