Adjusting a Promise in a Professional Manner


Having to readjust you or your client’s timeline happens. Maybe you’re behind on a project or you’ve come to realization that you won’t be able to deliver on what you’ve promised. These are normal parts of having a job, but how you handle these situations is what matters most.

Remain professional when retracting a promise with these 4 ways:

  1. When did this come about?
    First and foremost, you need to determine when you made the promise and how it came about. Laying out the details for the promise will help you to handle the situation. Some things you should address are: Who made the promise, when was it set and what expectations were involved.
  1. Have alternatives
    While it’s not ideal that you have to put the project on hold, it’s important to have other options available when the conversation takes place. This could be anything from discounts to other benefits that you can offer them in the meantime.
  1. Set up a meeting or call
    A face-to-face meeting or call will allow you to read how the other person is taking the information. It allows you to be human with the exchange and express the changes that need to happen. Remember to be empathetic during this time, acknowledge the issue and take responsibility where it’s needed. At the end of the conversation, offer up your alternative solutions to help them reach their goals.
  1. Set guidelines
    To avoid this from happening again, take notes of what occurred. Include everything from the initial promise, to how you handled the situation. Observe the other person’s body language messages and include your observations in your notes. It’s important to remain professional during this time to leave a positive impression on the other person, even though things may not have gone as planned. By having notes on file, you will be able to easily go back and see what promises were—or weren’t—made during conversations.

Addressing the issue may not always be easy; however, it’s important to remain professional and layout the next steps for moving forward. Learn more about why your image is critical to both you and your company’s success in our Leadership Presentation & Image Skills program.