The Importance of Keeping Your Promise

Like most people, I was taught the importance of keeping a promise at a very young age.  Often combined with a pinky swear or a scouts honor, a promise was something I learned I was always supposed keep, or there would surely be consequences if I didn’t.

A promise is an agreement we make to somebody else stating that we are going to do something.  Even though we not actually say the words “I promise,” that’s exactly what we’re doing.  We make promises with people for a number of different things; meeting someone for coffee, helping somebody move, or helping out with a project.

In business it’s no different.  We promise to have a job completed by a certain date, a product made of consistent quality, or bills from our vendors paid on time.

How Well Do You Keep Your Promises?

Do you keep most of the promises you make, or do you find yourself not following through with agreements you make? Sure there are situations outside of our control that makes keeping a promise impossible, but have stopped to think how the other person may feel if you don’t keep your promise?

Something that seems like no big deal to you may be a large disappointment to them.  Last week I had a bike ride planned with a friend that I was really excited about.  The day before the ride he sent me a text message telling me he couldn’t go on the bike ride because he decided to go on a hike with somebody else instead.  Now I am hesitant to set other appointments with him.

Think Before Breaking a Promise

We often find ourselves in situations we wished we would have never got ourselves into.  We might realize our promise may cost us more then we realized, or will take far more time than originally anticipated.  Heck, we might find something far more exciting to do instead, but is that really a good excuse for breaking a promise?  Instead, maybe if would be better if we didn’t make the promise in the first place.

A few years ago I used to agree to something that I would later regret.  I would keep my promise but I wasn’t happy about having to.  Whenever I was asked if I would help out or do something for somebody, I would immediately give an answer, and my default response was ‘Yes.’

Now, my standard default response is “I will give you an answer by the end of today, or by tomorrow mid-day. “  By using this simple technique, I have learned to give myself enough time to rationally think through the request to see if I really want to do it or not.  I can then respond accordingly instead of giving a knee jerk reaction.

It’s Your Reputation

The problem with breaking promises is it takes a hit on your credibility.  It can damage your reputation by making you seem unreliable or untrustworthy.  The ripple effects over time might mean missing out on fun future events, or losing business you are not even aware of.  It’s hard to estimate the damage one broken promise can cause.

I believe we should keep our promises with others.  Unless something comes up we can’t control, we should follow through.  No matter how much we might regret it at the moment, at least we can learn never to make that kind of promise again.  It’s your reputation.


Daryl Murrow

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