From Issue: 506 [Read full issue]

Lip Service

Commitment is a promise made with no expectation of return. It is the willingness to make a promise independent of either approval or reciprocity from other people. This takes barter out of the conversation. Our promise is not contingent on the actions of others. As long as our promise is dependent on the actions of others, it is not a commitment; it is a deal, a contract.

Saying no is a stance as useful as a promise. Both offer clarity and the authentic basis to move forward, even if there is no place to go at the moment. Lip service is another story. Nothing kills transformation faster than lip service. The future does not die from opposition; it disappears in the face of lip service.

Lip service sabotages commitment. It offers an empty step forward. It comes in the form of "I'll try." It is an agreement made standing next to the exit door. Whenever someone says they will try hard, agree to think about it, or do the best they can, it is smart to consider that a no. It may not be a final refusal, but at that moment there is no commitment. We can move forward with refusal; we cannot move forward with maybe. Whether it is a response to feeling coerced, a sense of internal obligation, or just a desire to look good, it is really a way to escape the moment and hijacks commitment.

Compiled From:
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, p. 136, 137