Two things culminated today that made me look at my own behaviour and consider whether I’d set people’s expectations up to believe one thing when I knew I meant another.

And I guess I’ve done it loads of times in my life. I was a people pleaser. I found it easier under pressure to agree to what was ultimately wanted of me rather than stick to what I wanted. Over time I’ve learnt that that just does not work. You stress yourself and you end up letting others down.

So for me, no means no. It’s easier that way. Believe me – suffer the confrontations at the beginning rather than deal with the fallout at the end.

I’ve had two separate events today that illustrate what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone promising and not delivering.

The first – my son took in an old JC friend of his as a lodger in my house. Trusting his judgement, we put the girl up. This evening she grossly violated the terms of her tenancy, letting my son down more than she let me down. But the truth was, her actions could have led to serious harm and possibly death. I wouldn’t suffer that shit with my own children so I certainly don’t have to with her. She had to go.

The second – I was approached today by a young man who claimed he would do ANYTHING (the capitals were his not mine) to learn copywriting from me, working as an intern or whatever. His email was vague as to what his plans were, but looking at his Facebook page he was working but had designs on setting up his own business. He subscribed to my group and, answering the qualifying questions, said as much.

Since I wasn’t really clear on his expectations, rather than make an offer that didn’t suit, I invited this young man for a non-obligatory meeting to find out more. I wanted to explore whether he wanted to pay for lessons, be mentored, swap working on my projects for learning experiences, or be fully employed. I didn’t know, so a meeting seemed the best way to find out. We could have worked out something that suited.

So it was a complete surprise when he turned down the offer of a meeting, claiming a sudden change in circumstances – within a few hours of swearing undivided allegiance – which I had had the good grace not to hold him to – hence the offer of a meeting!

The lesson learnt here is, be clear on what you want. If you ask someone for help, and they have the good grace to accept and offer help, have the decency to see it through.

This guy has missed out on what could have been the offer of a lifetime – a deal set to benefit him immensely. But the offer’s off the table now because he “changed his mind”.

The girl that rented my spare room, also gone.

If you take people’s good help, have the grace to respect them.

Ange Dove is an author, mentor and master copywriter. The founder of content creation agency, Proof Perfect, Ange is also known as Your Business Transformation Fairy Godmother and coaches business owners to MarketSMART.