How Much is Your Word Worth?
As a business coach I work with individuals, groups, and teams across a wide swath of industries. I learn what obstacles and challenges they face as they try to develop personal and professional skills. But I also learn why they choose to do business – or not to do business – with other individuals, groups, and teams.
I can’t tell you how often I hear this one:
“I couldn’t rely on them. They would say what they could or would do, then not get the job done.”
There is a very high cost to not keeping your agreements – your promises. It is not just the big agreements, but it is the little ones, too. In fact, I often hear that it’s an accumulation of little broken promises over time that eventually tear down the bridge between two business people. It’s things like:
- Canceling too many meetings
- Being late
- Cutting meetings short
- Not returning calls
- Leaving emails unanswered
- Forgetting to follow through on promised materials, contacts, or resources
It might not seem like a big deal in the context of a single day, but when it happens again and again, the client begins to feel like you don’t consider them or their time valuable. If they can’t rely on you for the small things, how can they rely on you for the big things – the things that cost real money?
Broken agreements are part of every day routines for some
It’s amazing to me how casually we give our word, which is the same as making promises. I often give guidelines for workshops and trainings and I ask that participants agree to those guidelines. Usually everyone does. Of course, they are simple things like getting back from breaks on time or not using their phones during sessions. Inevitably, there are people who are texting or even talking on their phones and those who saunter in five or 10 minutes late from breaks.
What’s even more interesting is that, as Jack Canfield says, “most people know they are going to break at least one of the guidelines before agreeing to them. And yet, they agree to them anyway.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Canfield when he says,
“The real problem is not that people give and break their word so easily; it’s that they don’t realize the psychological cost of doing so.
“When you don’t keep your agreements, you pay both external and internal costs. You lose trust, respect, and credibility with others – your family, your friends, your colleagues, and your customers.”
Canfield goes on to say that every agreement you make with others is an agreement with yourself as well. If you don’t keep your word, you diminish your sense of personal power. That impacts your self-esteem and creates confusion and self-doubt. You undermine your own belief and trust in yourself.
Self-doubt and fear are two of the factors that raise their ugly heads in Mastermind Group discussions when members are encouraging each other to push forward into bigger and grander plans. No one needs to do more damage to their spirits by losing trust in themselves.
Instead of being glib and making an off-the-cuff promise that you may, or may not keep, consider that others are depending on you keeping your word – in small matters as much as the big deals.
Most of all, build your own self-trust. Keep your agreements.
To your success!