unable to fulfil our commitment


A couple of months ago I booked a one night stay in a farmhouse. We were travelling to Norfolk and needed to stay over. We booked via an online website. A broker. A middle man.

A few weeks before we were due to travel, an email arrived, from the broker.

“Unfortunately, the owner has informed us they are unableĀ to fulfil the booking.”

My first reaction was, ‘damn, that’s a shame’ – it looked nice and I was looking forward to staying there. Quickly that evaporated into a sense of betrayal and deceit. Why had the owner let me down, and worse, why wouldn’t they just say why? I wanted truth.

Unable to get more information, I was ready to move on with my life and put it behind me. The broker had other ideas though. Daily for two weeks I got emails asking me to book an alternative. A venue they could recommend. It was twenty miles away from where I wanted to be. So, I ignored the emails. They served only to remind me that I had been let down. To continue to feed my disappointment. To turn it into a grumble, a bitterness.

Eventually the broker emailed a confirmed cancellation.

Then, two weeks before I had been due to travel, they emailed me, inviting me to have a lovely stay at the very place that had been unable to fulfil my booking. Now they were annoying me.

Then today, three days before my aborted stay, I received a new email. It says, “It’s time to put the finishing touches on your trip. Whether you’re travelling halfway around the world or just down the road, you deserve a great stay. So we’ve put together tips on how to make the most of your time and money.”

When we get it wrong, we simply get it wrong. When we get it wrong and then keep reminding everyone we got it wrong, we really, really get it wrong.

How often do we as human beings, interacting with others around us, effectively ‘send an email’ through not noticing our mistake. Through blindly repeating it? Through inadvertently drawing attention again to the error? Through not seeing another human being with their rights and needs?

It’s not about always being right. Nor is it about never making a mistake. It’s about noticing when we get it wrong. About truth, about honesty. But more, it’sĀ about respect. It’s about noticing an individual. Seeing a human being. Honouring another person and their feelings. Their clever marketing, their smart systems, their ‘customer service’ failed to see me. A commitment to see the person. That’s the commitment they were unable to fulfil.

are you sure you want to read this?

are you sure reflection
The “Are you sure?” button can be annoying.

You’ve done your preparation, made your decision and having pressed ‘send’ or ‘ok’, ‘cancel’ or ‘order’ the screen provides another pop-up asking the “Are you sure?” question.


This week I have had to cancel a holiday. Flights, hotels the lot. Each step I have been asked the “are you sure?” prompt. It has given me a moment to honour the importance of reflection, to honour a sadness, but also to honour the decision, other values that matter to me, people that matter to me.

I wonder, what if that button existed within us? What if when we were feeling fed up, the “are you sure?” prompt encouraged us to check in, calibrate and consider what is good in our lives?

What if when we were about to be overtaken by anger, the “are you sure?” prompt offered us the opportunity to pause, breathe and get some perspective?

What if when we were about to say something inappropriate in the midst of an argument, something that we might later regret, the “are you sure?” prompt held the words in the departure lounge of our minds and mouths, giving us a moment to re-think and consider the consequences?

What if when we felt a wave of emotion and our heads stepped in to prevent that showing to the outside world, the “are you sure?” prompt gave us the chance to be? The chance to show vulnerability and our truth? To be real?

Last week I might have signed a petition to ban the concept of “are you sure?” but now I’m asking myself “are you sure?”