An e-mail arrives in my Inbox.
I have to teach. Can you cover for me at the meeting?
I am convinced that my presence at this meeting would be a complete waste of time. I am pretty sure the sender realizes this, too, but just wants a body there for political reasons. Unfortunately, I do not have another engagement at that time.
Are there any strategies for the Push Back? One option is the White Lie: say I can’t make that time. The White Lie, while effective and politically correct, makes me uncomfortable. Another option is Total Honesty: say I’d rather not. Honesty may be the best policy, but Total Honesty is just naive.
I search for advice. White Lie and Total Honesty are suggested again, but I explain why neither solution is feasible. At this point, someone gives me a referral to the Expert on Such Matters. I call ESM, who contemplates the problem.
“Yes, that’s a difficult situation,” ESM replies. I concur. Is there no hope? ESM then starts to speak, and my eyes widen upon hearing the approach. I thank her and hang up.
Within minutes, an e-mail makes its way across the Internet:
Tomorrow’s a busy day for me, so covering might be hard. If you’re still in a bind tomorrow, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.