When you tell someone you’ll have the report ready by Thursday, have it ready by Thursday, not Friday. No excuses. When you promise someone you’ll call them on the 12 and here it is the 13 or 14, you haven’t kept your word. When you commit to volunteer from 10a.m.-2p.m., be there early and stay the full four-hour commitment: keep your word.
In both the personal and professional realms of saying we’ll do something, it seems that more frequently than I care to recognize, those commitments slide by. What happens? We tend to keep people waiting for myriad things : the check to arrive, the business call to come in, the proposal to be accepted, the job offer to come through, the family member or friend to call when they’re in town…and we wait. What happened to those words – written or spoken – that we, the recipients, keep in our brains as fact. “She said she’d let me know by the end of the week.” That was 10 days ago. “He promised he’d have the proposal completed by Monday.” It’s now Wednesday. “They wrote and said they’d be in town two weeks ago and we’d get together.” The call never came through.
Disappointment is rampant; it has the force of a team of wild buffaloes…if you’re the one who’s waiting. On the other hand, if you’re the one who’s made the statement or promise and let it slide, then you’re riding the buffalo at your own speed. It’s a balancing act. Emotions test our core.
When you make a commitment, keep it, or let the person/people know it’s not going to happen. Even if it’s as simple as saying, “I’ll call you before I go to the store and you can come with me.” Are we afraid we’ll hurt someone’s feelings if we say, “no,” or, “I would prefer to go alone,” or “I can’t make that deadline.” Isn’t it better to tell someone than to let them wait and figure it out for themselves? Whatever the case may be, buffalo up to reality and be honest: Keep your word.
Commitments now seem to follow the electrical, cable, or TV service: We’ll be there between 8a.m. and 4 p.m. Great. We get to sit, wait, ponder, hope for the phone to ring before 3:59 and not waste a whole day for the light bulb to get changed, or the cable box to be exchanged, or the TV buzz to disappear. I hope that I “Under promise and over deliver,” instead of “Over promise and under deliver,” when I tell someone I’ll be there, I’ll send it, I’ll call, I’ll meet you, I’ll have it to you. And you?