Don’t Promise What You Cannot Deliver

Are you a yes person? Do you feel like saying no to someone would make you a bad person or inadvertently let someone down? Do you find that you are always volunteering to bake the extra cupcakes for the school field trip, or spend two extra hours at work (without pay) despite the fact that you really do not want to or do not have the time to do so. Are you constantly accepting more responsibilities or more to do when the reality is you can barely finish the things that are currently on your to do list. One of the most important lessons in life is to learn ‘not to promise what you cannot deliver!’

If you were to take a business management class, one of the first lessons you would learn about managing a business is that you should always remain realistic of your capabilities. One of the most obvious examples of people that make promises they cannot keep are politicians. When a politician is running for an elected office, they are constantly making promises that they know they cannot keep. What they hope to accomplish is to build an audience that will believe and vote for them. In the long run however, the more promises they cannot keep, the less pleased people will be with their service. It won’t matter if they were true to 1 or 2 of their promises, their audience will always remember the promise they didn’t keep.

Consider the following scenarios. You have a doctor’s appointment at 10:45am. You arrived on time, had your paperwork complete and its now noon. And you still haven’t been seen? What if you took your car to the repair shop and they said they would have it done in 3 days. It has now been 2 weeks, and your car is still at the repair shop. How do you feel? What if your daughter promises that she will be home at 10pm and then does not get home until 1am? Are you disappointed? Let down? Angry?

The truth is that when other people make you promises that they cannot keep, you are likely upset and angry about it. And yet, you will continue to add things to your own to do list which risk disappointing others for the sake of saving face. If you have enough to do and have already promised three people your time and efforts – it doesn’t matter if the fourth person that asks you for a favor is your boss, or your spouse. Ultimately, you cannot do it. And most of the time, should you try to squeeze it all in and get everything done, not only will your work suffer but you will. The worst part is that most people have no one to blame for this over scheduling and over promising but themselves. You are the one who said yes. You are the one who told someone you could have his or her artwork to them in 3 days. And you are the one who will suffer the consequences. Either your efforts will slack – or you will drive yourself to the brink of exhaustion by trying to make good on all your promises.

Professionally speaking, under delivering should never be an option. If you own a business and are constantly promising people to deliver work and then are late, you will eventually sacrifice your dependability and your business. You do not want to be the type of employee that does quality work – but never gets it in on time.

And personally speaking, by allowing yourself to feel pressured into doing things for others or even for yourself, without taking into account just how much you can truly do in reality, sacrifices your own self worth. If you take on too much and make too many promises and then cannot deliver, you will feel bad about yourself and end up unduly beating yourself up over it.

It’s just not worth it.

The following are just a few tips you can use to be sure that you avoid this situation at all costs, both professionally and personally.

• Be realistic. There is no need to rush into promising something to others. If you aren’t sure, even for a split second – ask that you be given time to think about the request before saying yes. This gives you room to breathe so that you won’t be speedily tricked into saying yes all the time. If the person asking something of you cannot allow you time to reflect, this should throw up a red flag for you and act as a warning to not take on the added responsibility.

• Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others. If you are busy, you are busy. There is nothing wrong with being busy. In fact, professionally speaking being busy means you are successful and there is no way to clone yourself. Respect your time and your efforts enough to be honest.

• Don’t be the first to offer assistance. If your child’s elementary school is looking for volunteers and you are already short on time – then sit back and allow someone else to take up the slack. There is nothing wrong with allowing others to do their share. In the end, if you are ALWAYS the go-to person, others will just assume you will take on that role.

• If you have made a promise and worry that you cannot deliver on time, then alert the people involved as soon as possible. If you wait until the last minute, or just don’t deliver the promise as expected you put yourself and the others in a bad situation.

In the long run, it is better to turn things down then it is to disappoint yourself or others. Your word is one of the most important things that you have and you shouldn’t compromise it because you feel guilty, pressured, or even forced to do things.



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