A promise has tremendous power. Once you let it out, it is hard to take it back. It takes mere seconds to say, and sometimes even less to think about, but many of them will be tested by the fullness of time.
When you make someone a promise, you want them to know that you are sincere. They should feel that you have the ability and the willpower to deliver on your words. There should be no doubt that you will do what you will say you will do.
I often equate someone’s “word” to a brick wall. No matter what crashes against the wall – be it a tsunami, a sledgehammer, a well-aimed kick or a tennis ball, nothing should break its resolve. That is until the wall gradually starts to crumble, and bit by bit your credibility (how much people trust you) turns to rubble.
Every relationship in this world (ideally) should start with a clean slate. “I have no reason not to trust you as long as you give me no reason not to trust you.” That sort of thing. That is unless someone has been let down so many times that they don’t trust anyone. You have to work extra hard with these poor souls….
Therefore, in the early stages of a relationship (when you don’t have a track record of delivering on your big promises), every word that you say should be worth its weight in gold. Call when you say you will call, meet when you say you will meet, deliver the report exactly as requested. To start with, your brick wall is intact, but every fulfilled promise adds that little bit more mortar to make it stronger.
Even the smallest failed promise has an effect. It plants a seed of doubt in the other person’s mind. They now wonder when you won’t be able to keep your promise next time. Maybe next time it will be under more important circumstances? They might tell the story to others (we all love telling “sob stories”), and suddenly your one failure to deliver has caused a ripple effect of doubt. I may be exaggerating slightly, but if you are not careful, you will notice the effects.
If you have a history of broken promises, you have some serious plastering work to do. Every delivered promise holds renewed hope of a better future. Even if you think that the relationship is damaged beyond repair, often a sincere “sorry” and a determination to make things better does the job.
It all sounds like a lot of effort, doesn’t it? Well, that is because relationships require serious work. Circumstances don’t always allow for everything to go to plan, so, when you next make a promise, think about what you are saying to that person. Understand what the consequences of that promise mean for you – what will it take to fulfil it? How will you rectify it when things go wrong?
Making lofty promises is easy. It takes no skill whatsoever. They are mere words. When you have failed to a deliver on a few of them, that is all they will remain.
Make your words count. Ensure that they have power.