Do you Think Before You Make a Promise?

Do you think before you make a promise to someone? What if you can’t deliver on your word? Does it really matter? The world isn’t going to come to an end, is it? Well, actually no, but have you considered . . .

Many people are pretty casual about making promises. As a result, promises are frequently made at the drop of a hat with no real intention of keeping them. “Let’s do lunch,” “I’ll call you later,” and “I’ll be there in five minutes” are all examples of throwaway promises that are frequently made but seldom kept. However, this casual attitude can have real consequences.

When you break a promise, no matter how small it may seem to you, alarm bells aren’t going to go off, but it can damage a relationship or your reputation. Think about it — when someone else breaks a promise to you, or gets caught in a lie, doesn’t that make you feel violated or cheated? You can’t help wondering whether you were wrong to ever trust that person.

A promise is a promise. Some people apply a rating scale, believing that breaking a big promise is inexcusable, while a small one is acceptable. That’s simply false. Reneging on promises, such as being on time, casts doubt on future behavior. Remember, trust is built through a series of experiences shared with others. When behavior is consistent, faith in the relationship develops. When promises are broken or people are misled, the bonds of trust are breached.

Never promise the moon. If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it. Half the truth is often a whole lie. Lying comes in many forms. Some people exaggerate or stretch the truth to make something look more attractive. Others “spin the truth” by presenting “selected” facts that support their position. Withholding key facts is also lying — it’s clearly meant to deceive. When you tell a lie, everything that you say in the future may be treated as suspect.

Summing-up: Broken promises imply that the offenders either didn’t think before making the promises, or don’t care that they’ve let you down. So, be careful about the promises that you make and with whom you make them.

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