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We’ve all heard it, “I’ll give you a call.”  We wait for the call, but it never comes.  Before long we really never believe the person who told us they would call.

I’ve wondered why it is that we make promises or statements that we have no intention to follow through on.  Instead why don’t we just say, “It was nice seeing you.”  That’s much more authentic and doesn’t make us look foolish.

I believe that when you make any promise you’ll either add to or detract from your personal reputation.  It doesn’t matter how small the promise is, if you don’t follow through you always become diminished in others eyes. 

We think it’s OK for the little white lies.  In my opinion it’s not.  One of the ways I form an opinion of others is how well they follow through.  If someone says they’re going to call me and they don’t, my opinion of the trustworthiness falls.  If they do follow through then my opinion of them will rise, especially when they follow through where others don’t.

I learned this the hard way and it took me several years before I re-established trust with the person I told my “white lie” to.  To be trustworthy you have to be believed.  To be believed you have to tell the truth.

Standing out in a positive way is something we should all strive for.  Following through with what we promise is something that always makes us stand out in others eyes.  Others will at least understand that when you say you will do something you actually do it. 

Our world is cluttered with lots of junk and our mind is bombarded with outside stimuli as well as conversations we have with ourselves.  I know that I want to stand out from the clutter.  Following through is about the easiest thing I can do to stand out in a positive way.

But what if I can’t follow through?  That question is an easy one to answer.  Contact the person you make the commitment with and let them know what’s going on and set a date that you can follow through on.  Then, and this is important, make sure you meet the second deadline.

I rarely meet someone who won’t let me re-set a deadline as long as I call them before the deadline.  It’s when I don’t make the call that problems occur.

For me it’s all about being authentic.  If you want to be trusted you must be trustworthy.  Otherwise those you deal with will just hear your words as what they are, empty promises.

We’ve put together a special report on 7 Myths of the Private Business Owner.  You’ll see where trust can break down when people don’t understand the motivations of those they work with.  You should at least be able to answer these questions if you work with a private business owner.  To get the report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: communication, lessons learned, commitment

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