Promises, promises… oh and an apology…

So when is a promise a promise? Some unnamed politicians (who will probably be named later) would suggest only “core” promises are promises. Consider this hypothetical (and by hypothetical, I mean real) dilemma:

In a job interview, in order to impress the interview panel, a potential employee suggests he or she will stick around for a lengthy period of time. The potential employee gets the job. Was that promise a core promise? Who knows.

Then for the sake of argument, say a job with substantially better pay is advertised and the particular employee believes they have a fairly high chance of securing the other job – should they stay or should they go?

Disposable promises are an insipid social malaise. No one wants to be bound by these promises any more. And it’s all because of politicians. Here’s an article posted on one of the Herald’s blogs about another form of apparently disposable promises (the marriage vow).

While I’m on the subject of politicians and what they say – I’m betting that following the Prime Minister’s apology on the interest rate rise there’ll be at least one letter to the editor asking why he can apologise for that but not for the treatment of aboriginals.

Well let me give you my insight into apologies. A topic on which I’m an expert. You can’t apologise for something that you didn’t do – you can say I’m sorry for the way you feel about it… that’s every kid’s favourite trick. The government can’t admit responsibility for the actions of previous governments. That would open up all sorts of litigious wormholes.

On the other hand. I’m sorry for all the… and by that I mean for my excessive use of the elipsis…

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

13 thoughts on “Promises, promises… oh and an apology…”

  1. At one level, I think it’s good to know your market value, not to feed your ego, but so you are able to know where you stand in any application/review. It allows for a more secure negotiating position.

    Also, when considering other options, I think it’s good to be content where you are (accepting God’s sovereignty and provision in your life and avoiding covetousness/greed). I don’t think this means don’t look, but in looking, make sure your motives are right.

    In such an evaluation I think you have to look beyond the $$. Some other considerations include:
    *”expected” Hours – both how much and when, not always clearly stated;
    *travel required – time & cost;
    *nature of work – are they paying more to compensate for a less pleasant job/environment.
    *non-financial benefits – 5 course dinners, fishing trips, fresh produce, laptop/phone/
    *will it take away from family/church etc
    *will it allow me more/less/different opportunities to serve God through time/money etc

    Disposable promises is a difficult one – upon the employee’s conscience it be. I guess these days I’d be up front with an employer about wanting to stay for x time, but also acknowledge that should a better opportunity arise, I would consider it, and give them the right to reply. It’s more difficult to do this early in your working life.

  2. So, say the other job was mentioned to you by the manager making the appointment…

    Then say the expected hours are better (including a 9 day fortnight). Say travel time to work was reduced from 23 minutes to 1 minute each day.
    Say the job is pretty much the same.
    The non financial benefits would be different.

  3. I say go for the other job – what have you got to lose? It’s not like employers EXPECT their staff to still be working for them in 20 years time. When you apply for a job, unless there is a stipulated contractual obligation, or you have stated that you ‘will definitely stay in this position for x amount of time (minimum), it is pretty much understood that you can leave (or get sacked!) provided that the agreed amount of notice is given.

    Besides, employers are no longer loyal to staff and it is well known in business circles that 2 years in one job is considered ‘lengthy’.

  4. STAY WHERE YOU ARE! Don’t you dare wuit that job. Imagine life without all those famous people giving away their tv tricks. If you didn’t have that job i would never have known that cooks on tv spray the food with fly spray. Its facts like this that make life interesting…WHy go when the ‘going’ is good? Seems stupid to me. I think if you went for the other job it would be a bit of a GAMBLE, and if you missed it would be slightly IRONIC after you had just been praising gambling. But i guess if you didn’t get the job you would deserve it, cos you broke your PROMISE, and thats bad. I guess that’s what they call POETIC JUSTICE.

  5. oh, and when i said wuit, i meant wuit. don’t you dare wuit that job. It’s a new word, similar to quit, but what it means is don’t you WILLINGLY QUIT, if you quit unwillingly, that is fine…

  6. I agree with you Miriam, to a point…

    I think that’s exactly the attitude of many employers and workplace cultures, but does the fact it is the status quo make it right? This is the crux of the hypothetical dilemma I guess, since almost everything seems to be in the favour of the potential job.

    Nathan,

    Sounds like a great job to have, and would certainly provide the employee with more time for lots of good things.

    How do its long-term prospects/personal network development opportunities/etc compare with the current?
    How long would the employee be willing to stay there?
    Why is the job empty? For how long was it filled before?

    At some stage in the employee’s first 5 years of his or her career (mine has been more of a careen), he or she probably should staying consider a year or 2 under the one employer – as Miriam said, 2 years looks good, not just to employers, but banks too.

    That still doesn’t address the conscience issues of personal integrity, what constitutes a promise/contract, your intentions, employers expectations, the world’s view, God’s view.

    My post-modern conclusion, it’s up to the employee to decide his/her best course of action. I wouldn’t presume to judge anyone on the issue, other than those greedy and disloyal job-hoppers that get the good positions ahead of me.

  7. “there’ll be at least one letter to the editor asking why he can apologise for that but not for the treatment of aboriginals.”

    Aaaargh I hate it when people go on about that >_<
    (Not saying you were Nathan- just the people you were referring to.)
    Why can Howard apologise for rising rates? Coz he’s partly responsible.
    Why can’t Howard apologise for the treatment of Aboriginals? Coz he’s NOT responsible.
    I’m white- I’m not going to apologise to aboriginals for what some idiots did 70 years ago. Sure, I am sorry that it happened but I’m not going to make an apology. An apology is to “acknowledge faults or shortcomings or failing” or “An acknowledgment expressing regret or asking pardon for a fault or offense”. It is not John Howard’s fault, shortcoming, failing, or offense, therefore, and he should not be required to give an APOLOGY. Sure, he can say he’s sorry it happened, but not an apology.

    There’s my rant :) Completely unrelated to your blog, but hey! :P

  8. i’ve always been a simple type – kind of like sticking to the “let your yes be yes and your no be no” approach. i suppose on the work front – work to live not live to work is a nice idea as well.

    don’t know if this helps much.

  9. just take the job and give the pay rise away to charity for the first year to make you feel better for quitting the other job.

  10. leah – i agree. you can’t say sorry for what you personally didn’t do. you can acknowledge that something is not right and you can sympathise by saying that you are sorry that they had to go through something like that, but if you weren’t the one that did the deed you shouldn’t be expected to say ‘sorry’. maybe it’s time we all just moved on. yes, learn from past mistakes, but lets not dwell. move on.

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