Why Empty Promises Will Make You Look Foolish
Have you ever noticed that some people have great ideas but nothing happens with them? Do you know people who say they will do something but never do it? Do you say that you’ll do something while you’ve no intention of doing it?
When we says that we’ll do something, we create an expectation in our listeners. If you tell me that you’ll call me at a certain time, you’re setting me up to expect your call. If you say that you’ll call me and have no intention to call me while saying it, it reveals that you’re false or too cowardly to tell things straight. You mean well, of course – perhaps you want to be polite because you’ve no reason to tell me that you don’t want to call me… But if you have no intention of calling, you’d be far more polite and respectful to me if you didn’t say anything if you cannot bring yourself to say that you won’t call me. If you tell me that you’ll call and don’t, you’re projecting the image that you are not trustworthy and cannot be counted on. You’re downgrading the weight of your word and placing yourself in the crowd of sheeple who do exactly the same thing. This may seem harsh, but if it describes your familiar habit, at least this article helped you see the consequences of the habit. And I used the example of you calling me for the purpose of clarity. Of course, this principle applies no matter who the alleged recipient of your call be.
What can you do?
If you want to be credible and respected, only say that you will do something if you are genuinely committed to doing it. Hold your breath and count to 10 before spouting out impulse-driven sentences that others will take as your word of commitment. Make this a rule and follow it. If you have to miss a deadline, communicate a new deadline as soon as possible. This will earn you a lot of respect and trust from everyone.
Detail/big picture: One of the most important gifts you can give yourself if you want to be successful is to identify where to place your attention. People often get lost in the details when making decisions and lose sight of the larger stakes. In our context the larger stakes are that if you don’t do what you say you’ll do, you’re losing respect and credibility.
Options/procedures: When people are focused on options, alternatives, and possibilities, they struggle completing commitments. These folks tend to be very creative, but often do not follow through what they say they will do. If someone a prefers a step by step process when he does things, that person is more likely to follow through commitments. Language such as “the next step, then, after that, process, how to get to the end goal” will highly likely indicate that the person is committed to doing what he said he would do. To improve your ability to really do what you said you’d do adopt a procedural mode. An easy way is to schedule in your calendar when you will call me. And use your calendar to guide you.
Delegate: If you still suck at doing what you said you would do, hire someone and give them the task. Obviously, if your commitment was to call me or make love to your partner, delegating this might lead to undesired consequences. Lol.
The Power of Commitment
When you only say that you’ll do something, you have power! Others trust you and treat you with respect. But you get the things you want from life because you did what you said you would. Say only what you’ll do, do it, and achieve what you want every time. Or say that you won’t do something if you don’t want to do it. People will respect and admire your courage to say things straight. That’s a trait of strong characters. Do you want to be one?
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