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Know What You Want and Be Ready!

Updated on October 25, 2018

Say what you mean - mean what you say, and try to be prepared!

Ever go to a job interview, and find that the interviewer seems hesitant or even confused? Or have you been 'recruited' by an enthusiastic person who wants to hire or partner with you on something, or who wants to really help you get ahead, only to pull back when you say, "ok, I'm ready, lead the way!"?

I have. And to be fair, I've also been the person who's pulled back or become hesitant when the other party said, "Ok, let's do it." Fortunately for me, I haven't been the 'pull back' person since my college days long ago. But I've run into pull back people many times. A few examples:


1. Just after I graduated college in the 1980's, I answered a job ad for this 'placement' service. The guy who interviewed me was very impressed and said he could do things to help me get ahead, that he knew people who would want to hire me and that I was on my way, and that he would help me in every way he could. So, he made a few phone calls, then said he would call me when he had things set up. So I went home, and sure enough he did call me. He was sending me to an interview at a college, for a position 'just for me'. He gave me the name of a professor to see. I went, and met the professor, who was a client of the placement service. He was a nice guy and it turned out that he was looking for someone with a degree in motorcycle repair to teach with him! I explained that I was not an assistant professor by any means. He was very understanding and we both realized we'd both been duped by this placement service! When I got home and tried to call the placement service man, he only gave me some jibberish, and said I needed to talk to this other guy at the service, then transferred me before I could say any more. This other guy then said I needed to talk to the first guy, then hung up on me! Needless to say, I never dealt with them again!

2. A few years ago, I responded to a craigslist ad which said, "The most laid back job ever!". I called the cell phone number that was listed and left a message for "John". No response, so after a few days, I called again and some guy answers. It wasn't John. He said that he was a friend of John's and that John usually didn't carry his own phone but had him do it! And, he knew nothing about the job and said that John only rarely listens to his messages! When I asked about reaching John directly, the guy told me to call back during business hours and hung up! Nothing in the ad told me when 'business hours ' were, or the name of the business, if it even existed!

3. I recently started a flyer distribution business, which I mentioned in one or two of my other hubs. I put out several ads on Craigslist, and recieved several calls. One was from a budding business who wanted to get word out of his business. He called me and asked about my pricing and what I could do fo him. I told him and he said it would be fine but that he had to sort out some things first, so if I could call him the following week, that would be fine. We could set things up then. So, I called him the following week, and he said he wasn't quite ready yet and he would call me in a few days. Well, after not hearing from him, I called him to inquire, and he said he didn't know when he would be ready! So, I suggested he keep me in mind for when he is ready. I haven't heard from him since and don't know if I will, but I figure it's much better not to try to deal with him and waste more time.

4. Another person called me from an established business and said they wanted to do a marketing project for September. I was asked to call them a week later for details, and I did. They said the project was delayed for about two weeks, and that they would call me back. Well, over two weeks passed and no response. I called them, and they don't know when the project will run or even if it will! So, when they truly need me, if they ever do, they can call me! Now, to be fair, the guy who called me is most likely an employee of said company, and is following orders from other people who may not have their act together, or they may have the communication gaps that often occurr in larger companies, so the employee might have been calling me based on outdated information from his own company.

Luckily, for the last three examples, I only wasted a little phone time. Also of note, Two people who called me regarding flyers to be distributed knew what they wanted, set up a time for me to meet with them, actually met with me and gave me their flyers to distribute, and paid me as they said they would when I was done! And, saying this as a man, they were both women! I'm not trying to infer anything by this, it's just a fact!

So, why do the 'pull back' people pull back? Well, it's for a number of reasons.

First, let me make one thing clear: If someone is blindsided by calamity, or something big that they hadn't counted on, then it's not only ok for them to pull back, but it may even be their duty to! For instance, if the guy who answered the phone in example #2 above had said that John had had an immediate medical emergency, then that would have been fine and certainly understandable. I'm talking about plain 'cold feet' pull backs that have no justifiable reason behind them.

People pull back for a number of reasons such as:

Reasons people 'pull back':

1. Not really knowing what to do when the time comes and feeling 'caught off guard'. This may come from not having planned or researched sufficiently, and not expecting a 'yes let's do it' answer from the other party.

2. Not being ready to 'provide the product after the sale is made'. This is related to pullback reason #1 and is probably what happened in the case of the guy with the budding business in example # 3 above.

3. Plain laziness and irresposibility. This seems to be the case in example # 2 above.

4. Overpromising and covering up just to look good? This probably explains example # 1 above.

While the pull back happens in all aspects of life, I have noticed them more in business, both as a prospective employee and a self employed person. So, I do have some advice, for both employee and employer, and customer as well. I'm not an expert, but I think that these things can help make life easier.


  1. If you are an employer, be sure when you place an ad to hire someone, that there really is a job related to that ad, and that there is communication info on the ad. Also, it may help to list the company name on the ad, so employees can research the company. This can help to screen out some who may not be a good fit for the company, thus wasting less of your time.
  2. Regardless of whether you are the employer or employee, or customer, anytime you express a wish or put out instruction to have someone, anyone, call you, make sure that either you answer, or that whoever answers, knows about the ad, the job, the request, etc, or knows how to contact you more easily. And if you cannot answer the phone, make sure you have voicemail, and that you respond in a timely manner to it! One business day in most cases should be reasonable.
  3. As a prospective employee, try to research the job if possible. Sometimes this can be difficult with want ads, many of which don't list company names and other information that could help in this regard. If no information is available in this regard, try to self prepare by thinking of how you will answer them if you contact them by phone. With e-mail this is easier, as most employers know they will probably not get an instant response to emails they reply to.
  4. Try not to say 'yes', then 'no', without good reason. This is the true 'pull back', and applies to all of us. If you're a customer, don't say, "Yes, I'll buy it and pick it up Tuesday when it comes in.", then say you changed your mind when you get word the package is ready for pickup. Don't call a contractor or business to have them do a job for you and to call you a week later, then when they call, put them off for another week, then when they call again, tell them you don't know if you'll be ready. And if you're hiring someone, don't tell them that you'll help them, you have a position for them, then when they say "OK, I'll accept the job"., tell them that you aren't ready to hire them just yet (meaning 'never') or worse, pass them off to someone else and back again! And lastly, don't tell friends and family that you'll be there, then you won't, then you will, etc. In other words, say what you mean and mean what you say. Being vague, wishy washy, and doing the 'pull back' thing only wastes time, gives false hopes, and lowers the 'pull back' person in the eyes of others.

So, if you say you're going to do something, you'll buy something, the project or job is on, you're hired, or that you'll be there, then, unless there's a truly compelling and justifiable reason, then follow through! You and those around you will be better for it!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment!

Alan S.

Pull Back Encounters

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