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Do What You Say

Originally published
Originally published: 5/1/2014

I think most people would rather be slightly irritated when you say “no” than be disappointed you don’t follow through 

It can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to do what you say you’re going to do — not just in your business, but also in everyday life. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to build your reputation with anyone that comes in contact with you, and I don’t have to tell you how important this is to your employees and customers. 

We’ve published articles on this topic many times. Under-promise, over-deliver — it’s a mantra everyone in the service industry should know, and yet many times simply delivering on a promise is a struggle for some … largely because they over-promise. 

It’s no secret everyone is busy — overextended much of the time is probably much more accurate — and as a result sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to get to everything. It’s not an excuse, of course, because everyone is busy. 

The trick is to find your limits (remember Clint Eastwood’s one liner in Dirty Harry - “A Man’s Got to Know his Limitations”) knowing realistically what you can and can’t do, is easier said than done in this world where you’re trying to be everything to everybody. Knowing your limitations is one of the most difficult, yet impressive, qualities you can have as a leader. 

Do people view you as reliable or unreliable based on what you’ve promised? I’ve found that over-promising often comes because I haven’t given any realistic thought to my available time. And, one of a few things happen: I’m stretched too thin and don’t perform at the best level I can, I simply don’t get to everything — or I get to it too late (the publishing business is a very deadline oriented business. Missing deadlines usually means someone has been let down, we’ve lost revenue or both. Bad scenarios all the way around). 

Be honest with yourself as to how much you can realistically handle and make commitments accordingly. The overload(s) can start with something as simple as I’ll call you, email you, send this or that — just stop! If you have no intention of doing something, don’t say you’ll do it, or you’ll try to do it, or you’ll see if you can do it. Be honest by not saying anything at all — silence it golden. 

I think most of us are guilty of doing these things without even thinking of it. Make a conscious effort this week to see how many often trivial things you can stop promising to deliver. If you want to be respected, then say “yes” when you mean “yes” and “no” when you mean “no.” Effective leaders are seen as individuals with reputations built on effectiveness and dependability. 

Honesty is always the best policy. It may not always be popular, but it will gain you respect. I think most people would rather be slightly irritated when you say “no” than be disappointed you don’t follow through. Effective leadership demands the courage to speak the truth and follow through on everything you promise. Think about your family, customers, employees, vendors and everyone who looks to you for answers. What do they really want? What’s important to them? Honesty. If you think about it, keeping people happy is really quite easy … as long as you do what you say you’re going to do. 

 

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