It is not always easy or even possible to follow this axiom, but if you can, you will be greatly respected by others, and you will feel good about yourself.
Recently I used this phrase in a customer service email to my bank, when I was chastising a rep for not calling me back when he had promised. In retrospect I may have laid it on a little thick, or had too high of expectations, but I was truly disappointed that the rep broke his promise. I felt that he and his company should know that there are people out there like myself who hope and even expect people to do what they said they would, especially those who are in the service industry.
Here are some strategies for staying on track of keeping your word:
1. Don’t overestimate your ability to deliver. Know your limitations and do not feel you have to say ‘yes’ to everything and everyone. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
2. Don’t promise anything. Get in the habit of not using that phrase. Replace it with “I’ll try”, “we’ll see what we can do”, or “I’ll do my best” if you feel you cannot commit.
3. Don’t mention things in advance – surprise people. Instead of promising the world or even boasting ahead of time, simply hold it in and create the necessary action to fulfill the desired outcome. Wouldn’t it be a nice surprise if you just ‘showed up’ and could dance well, or did your report or essay a week early, or cleaned the garage without announcing it, etc.? Think about how you can surprise people next time. Actions truly speak louder than words!
4. Record your promises. If you are going to dare to use the ‘p’ word, then by all means, stick to your oath. You have to keep your promises if you want to keep your friends and business clients. Write important dates and deadlines down. Keep a record, even if it is just a notepad and post-it notes. I don’t know how I survived before I had my iCal. I can quickly glance and see my promised schedule for the day, week, month and year. It really helps me stay on track.
I hope you can count on the word of those around you, because you have proven to them that they can count on your word. That is one of the best ways to ensure mutual trust and respect.