- "I'll get this back to you by Friday." Friday came and Friday went, but you did not get it back until Monday evening.
- "I need a favor. If you can just take care of this for me, I will take care of this for you." The favor was done for you, but you did not take care of what you promised to take care of.
Is this you? Or, is it someone you know? You know what I'm talking about – the person who, more often than not, fails to do what they say they are going to do.
Maybe it's you and you don't realize it. You have built a reputation for being careless. You have built a reputation for missing deadlines, failed promises, and being so focused on the big stuff that you miss the little stuff. You have found a way to justify your behavior – you're all about priorities and the little stuff just doesn't count.
Here's the problem with that attitude – when you follow through, you build trust with others. Successful people do what they say they are going to do.
When you fail to keep your word, it erodes your credibility. You make a promise and the person subconsciously adds a question mark to it because they suspect that you fail to deliver.
When you fail to keep your word, it builds distrust. We build trust with others on small actions, not the big dramatic moments that we see on television. When you fail to do this, it limits your opportunities. No one is going to recommend someone who fails to deliver on promises. Your inability to keep your word could erode someone else's credibility, why would they take the risk?
You might not sweat the small stuff, but others do, and it could derail any opportunities that come your way. You have a reputation now, everyone knows they can't count on you.
Humans make mistakes – sometimes we forget things and sometimes we fail. However, continuously failing to do what you say is a bad habit; and there are consequences to over-promising and under-delivering. Your word is nothing if you don't follow through. With that in mind, consider the following tips on ensuring you can do what you say.
Tips to Help Keep Your Word
- Don't make a promise or agree to something unless you are positive you can do it. Look at yes as a contract. When you say yes, you're entering into a contract. There is now an expectation from the other party that you follow through.
- If you cannot commit to something with total conviction, then don't commit to it at all. If you can't do something, then say no. It isn't just a sign of self-respect, the other person may be hurt or offended initially, but you are showing them respect by saying no to something you know you can't commit to.
- Do yourself a favor and keep a schedule. If you say yes, it goes in your calendar (be sure to set reminders). Own it. It's also important to account for other commitments, setbacks, and life. Under promise, over-deliver.
- If life throws a twist and you break a promise you have to own it, even if it's outside of your control. Don't try to make excuses, don't try to explain it, just do whatever it takes to make it right.
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