The futility of ‘sorry’.

I was studying at a Well-known Institute of Management in Western India (WIMWI is the acronym used in some of the case studies at IIM-A, that involve IIM-A in the narrative). One year of gruelling deadlines, surprise quizzes and massive competition, and another year of exploration, fraternising, and CV-making had passed by. It was time for placements. At business institutes across India, placements is a time when the campus turns into a pressure cooker.

I was well prepared. I knew what I didn’t want. I got selected after my very first interview by a major global consumer products company. They loved me. They gave me an instant offer. I was thrilled. I genuinely liked the company and thought it was a great offer. Yet, it was only my first interview, and I thought I’ll ask them for some time to confirm.

Thinking that it would be prudent to participate in at least one more interview, I went to another desk. I got an offer there too. Now I had to think a little. Though, it didn’t take me too long to figure out what I wanted to do. I would take the first offer.

There didn’t seem to be any urgency. I strolled back to the placement arena around 3pm to go and take up my offer letter. As I entered, I found strange expressions on the faces of the officials from the consumer products company that had earlier so excitedly given me the offer. They seemed upset. It was my turn to be disappointed. They told me that they had changed their mind! They didn’t want anyone who takes so long to make up their mind! I genuinely believed there that time was not of concern as long as I reverted before they wound up the counter. I attempted explaining but soon realised it was in vain.

Of course I got the other offer which was from a global technology giant. But the pain of the refusal has remained in heart for a long time.

I learn’t a bitter but beautiful lesson that day. I learnt the importance of quick decisions. I learnt to revert quickly once I’ve made a commitment to someone. I learn’t that people respect you if you keep them updated and get back to them promptly, if you have assured them that you will get a certain task done. I learn’t to state a deadline myself when I take up a job even if the job-giver doesn’t specify a deadline.

I realised at times the word ‘sorry’ is futile. What is needed rather is quick decision making and clear communication. At times, these can replace each other, but certainly at least one of them MUST be a part of my character… better if both are!

One sorry may be ok (sometimes), two sorry’s is certainly disappointing, but three sorry’s is a disaster!

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