Saying “no” or “I can’t” can be difficult. However, getting labeled as someone who can’t be believed or relied upon is worse. In fact, making commitments that you can’t or don’t intend to keep creates a real deficit in relationships and damages your credibility.
Follow these suggestions to become known as a person of your word.
- Rely on a tool. A calendar can keep you on track. Rely on your email calendar or task manager to receive updates as you get closer to your task. Another tool is the calendar on your cell phone: It’s a great way to receive immediate alerts about pending commitments.
- Be realistic. Even if your intentions are good, if you cannot fulfill your commitments, you will lose the trust of those to whom you made a promise. It is better to be forthright than to disappoint someone who was counting on you.
- Act quickly. Your thoughts will only remain in your mind for a certain amount of time. As soon as you make a promise or commitment to do something, put it in your calendar. Remember to be specific. Write down the action to be taken, the time and the location.
- Follow up. Although it may seem like a daunting task, following up can be as simple as a quick text, email or phone call. For example, “Hi, Mark. Just sending a quick text to make sure that we’re still on for lunch tomorrow at noon.” By checking on the promises you make, you are not only showing the other parties that you are interested but reminding yourself of the commitments you’ve made.
- Manage change proactively. Sometimes plans change. Immediately contact the person to whom you made the promise and let him or her know about the situation. Your communication—even if it’s to change a plan—helps others know that you are a person of your word.
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