“Endangered species: people who mean what they say and then do what they say”, was what a friend of mine posted as his facebook status a few days ago. In fact, if you think about it, how many times do we do 100% what we say?
How many times have you agreed upon doing something, while at that very moment you know that you won’t do it? Why does this happen? Usually, we say yes when we don’t want to face the conflict that might occur by saying no. Other times it is because we want to be liked or we don’t want to stand out in a team. The final outcome is the same. Every time we don’t keep our word our subconscious records a minus in that side of the brain that says “unreliable”.
And in the end how much does this result cost us? Our subconscious works 800 times faster and more effectively than the rest of our brain. Therefore, every time we don’t keep our word, we are given one more reason to feel unreliable, to reduce our confidence and self-respect. All these happen on personal level. On social level, the people we socialize with, lose their trust on us and feel that they cannot count on us. Our relationships are shrinking instead of developing.
It is important to realize that every deal we make is a deal with our own self. Keeping our word is vital for the way we perceive ourselves, no matter if the deal is made with our manager, partner, friends or children.
In which way can we become better at keeping our word?
Before making a deal or saying yes, think well on whether or not you are able to fulfill it. Even the slightest yes, is not something you are forced to say. If you are not sure say: “Can I get back to you tomorrow, because I am not 100% sure that I will keep my word and I want to be consistent in what I say to you?” If someone gave you that answer wouldn’t he earn your respect and your positive answer?
Write down all your obligations in one place. Research says that a thought remains in our brain for 37 seconds. Therefore it is very reasonable to forget something. Buy a good notebook that has a calendar or use the calendar of your smartphone and try out all the possible ways that could serve you in not forgetting your obligations. It is advisable that post-its are used till the moment you record your obligations in the place you have chosen, because they get lost and don’t help you keep track of time, like a calendar does.
Isn’t it better to say no if you think that you will not manage to keep your word even if it’s a phone call or an email? Whenever people tell me, “will you send me that article that you told me about?”, I reply “is it possible to send me an email asking for it please?”, because I am aware of the fact that there is no way that I will remember.
When it comes to something bigger I say, “This time of the year I have many obligations, would you like us to discuss about it in a few months?” .
When it comes to something I am not interested in I reply, “I am sorry but I will not be able to come through. I believe that something like this does not suit me, it has nothing to do with you, it has to do with the way I see things”. Depending on the situation, these answers can be adjusted to fit in a conversation of professional, friendly or intimate nature.
Form a relationship with an accountability partner. Ask a friend to check on you on something you have committed to do, for example, going for a walk 3 times per week. If you don’t do it, the consequences will be greater than the positive results like for example paying 100 euro. Our brain functions on that direction. The way you perceive things, consciously and subconsciously, changes, the moment you commit to someone else and have to “pay” if you don’t keep your promise. Try it and you’ll see, the results will impress you.
What would you say to take the test and pick the adjectives that characterize you:
How reliable are you?
JILL DOUKA, MBA, PCC
#1 International Bestselling Author of Create Love and How to Create Your Life
Business Mentor Awarded by European Union and accredited by Coach Federation
Global Academy of Coaching Director