Always Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
It sounds so simple, right? But how often do we not keep our word?
I recently had an eye-opening interaction with a new LinkedIn connection. We had agreed to meet for coffee and she cancelled a half hour before our appointment, saying she was in a client meeting that may run long.
I told her there was no need to reschedule our meeting and emphasized that cancelling an appointment 30 minutes prior, after I had booked that time out of my schedule, was in poor taste and showed a lack of respect for my time.
She responded by saying running a business is her main focus, therefore meeting clients and making money were more important than keeping an appointment with me.
I explained to her that the key to creating a successful business is doing what you say you’re going to do, all the time, even if you see that thing as small or insignificant. And I told her that a business owner’s most precious commodity is time. When you don’t show respect for someone’s time, they won’t want a relationship with you.
She ended up disconnecting with me. By being so dismissive, she’ll never know who I could have introduced her to and the profound effect it could have had on her business. Not to sound harsh, but I believe her new business will fail. I’m sure cancelling a meeting is not the only time she’s had a lack of integrity with her word.
Unfortunately, many business owners have no idea how damaging it is to relationships and our businesses when we don’t keep our word.
The Importance of Following Through
The entire incident really got me thinking. I began to wonder how often I don’t keep my word. How often do I make a promise and then not follow through?
It can be something small, like promising to call a person on a certain day, but I don’t do it. Or promising to email someone information by a certain date, but I don’t do it.
It’s scary when you think about it. Every time we don’t keep our word, it’s a withdrawal from the emotional and trusting bank account. But we seem to break promises all the time.
What happens when you don’t follow through on your promises?
- You hurt the people around you and damage relationships.
- People stop believing you and taking you seriously.
- You potentially lose out on great opportunities.
- You get a lot less done than you would if you kept your word.
- Your self-esteem is damaged.
- Your business could be financially harmed.
- Customers may leave you.
I’m sure the list could go on.
It also dawns on me that the person we most often break promises with is ourselves. We let ourselves down all the time. We make big plans to eat better, get in shape, work harder on our businesses, and so forth. But then something usually comes up and we go back on our word. Or we make excuses as to why we couldn’t do it.
We usually don’t mean to break promises. Something comes up or we just flat out forget. I’m sure there’s typically no malice intended when we don’t follow through. We almost always mean it when we make a promise. Perhaps we simply don’t put enough emphasis keeping our word. We don’t realize how significant and important it is.
Keeping Your Word Helps Your Business Thrive
When you’re known as someone who keeps their word, it will help your business flourish. It will keep your relationships strong. People will trust you and refer others to you. It plays a huge role in the success or failure of businesses.
Here’s a few things that have helped me get better at keeping promises. You may find them useful, too:
- Start keeping track of the promises you make, especially the promises to yourself. Write them down if you need to. Even if it’s something small like, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” keep track of it.
- Keep track of how often you don’t keep the promise. This isn’t so you can punish yourself, it’s just to show that you’re probably breaking your word more often than you think.
- Don’t allow yourself any excuses for breaking your word. It’s very easy to get into the, “I would have done it but…” routine. If you decide to take ownership for all of it, you’ll become better and keeping promises.
- If a real emergency genuinely does come up and you can’t uphold the obligation, let the other person know as soon as possible. A half hour in advance is not fair notice. A lot of us hate to deliver bad news, so we procrastinate. I have a friend who says, “the only thing worse than bad news is bad news late.” Of course, in real life, sometimes things change. But this is far different from not keeping a promise simply because you forgot or “something else came up.”
- Start small and practice keeping your word. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Keeping your word is a habit that needs to be nurtured and practiced. Practice on seemingly insignificant things.
When you become great at keeping promises to yourself and others, you’ll see dramatic improvements in yourself and your business. Your confidence increases. Your performance improves. Your relationships improve. And people will see you as someone who knows how to get things done.
I understand that it’s a lot of work. Creating a new habit always is. But if there’s one simple shift you can make that starts showing results immediately, it’s keeping your word.
About the Author
Michael Keiser promises he is Co-Founder of coaching, marketing, and advisory company The E Circle.
Interested in learning more about Mike and his entrepreneurial endeavors?
Read our interview: Entrepreneur Co-Founds Business Advisory Startup.
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