Have you ever given your word to do something, only not to follow through? You may not even have remembered giving your word. It might have been a slight of the tongue. One of those, “I’ll call you this week and we’ll go for coffee” but you never do, kind of thing.
I recently had a part-time associate of 5 years quit her job from one of the stores that I oversee. The associate sent me an email that was written while her emotions were fresh. She had been working at the store while going to university for an Accounting degree. She recently graduated and wanted to apply to our Head Office for an Accounting job. Her Store Manager offered to send me an email requesting my help in forwarding the employee’s resume to the right person. Two weeks later, the part-time associate asked the Store Manager if she had sent her resume. The manager replied, “No, but it is no big deal”.
What the associate communicated to me in that email was how she felt at that moment, that she was disrespected. The manager gave her word to do a simple task and did not realize the withdrawal that she had just made to her emotional bank account. Her words were, “I always gave 100%, I worked extra hours when needed and replaced shifts when the store was short. I never asked for anything. She gave me her word and didn’t even bother to apologize for not following through”.
Did she overreact?
The answer will depend on who you ask and whose point of view you are seeing it from.
The point I am making is that you should never underestimate the damage to a relationship when you don’t follow through with a commitment you made.
When our words don’t match our actions, we lose a measure of healthy ownership and control over our lives. When our actions don’t match what we say we will do, our integrity gets chipped away. Not committing to our words, undermines our relationships, and damages our sense of self, decreasing our personal power.
According to Psychology Today, “Personal power is based on strength, confidence, and competence that individuals gradually acquire in the course of their development. This type of power represents a movement toward self-realization and transcendent goals in life; its primary aim is mastery of self, not others.”
Personal power comes from being in integrity and diminishes whenever our integrity is undermined. Words and language patterns are powerful forces of creation. They articulate our reality. They define our agreements. When we have integrity, our words match our actions. When we break from this pattern, we lessen our integrity.
Integrity and Personal Power is not the only thing that gets diminished when we don’t keep our words. Aside from those consequences, we also damage other people’s confidence and trust in what we say. We may even lose their respect if it becomes a pattern.
When you have undelivered promises, you are leaving loops open. Your subconscious is aware that your actions are not meeting your words. You may not even realize it but your self-worth is slowly being challenged.
If you have find yourself missing some commitments you have made, here are some tips on how to increase your personal power by being true to your words.
Identify Your Triggers
Take a moment to reflect about where you most frequently break promises either with yourself or others. Is it your fear to disappoint or your desire to help? Once you are conscious of your triggers, you can work to eliminate them.
Give Your Word Less Often
Don’t be too quick to say “yes”. Commit to agreeing to do something only when you know with absolute certainty that you can deliver.
“Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe”
Keep a Reasonable Schedule
Sometimes we might have the best intentions to do what we say but are over-committed. Our schedule becomes too hectic and it becomes nearly impossible to accomplish everything we set out to do. Try and keep a reasonable schedule and set time aside for unforeseen circumstances.
Be Honest and Say No
Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone is to say, “No”. When you know you cannot deliver, be honest and don’t overpromise. Don’t try and make excuses. I wrote a recent post on, “how to say no without feeling guilty”.
What tip do you have to ensure you are being true to your words?