When you tell someone that you’re going to do something, do you go and do it? Or, do you often not actually do it? Do you mean what you say and say what you mean?
We’ve all had experiences where someone says they’re going to do something and then they don’t. It could be that they’re going to call, but they don’t. Or, they’re going to finish a project by a certain date and time, but they don’t. Or, they’re going to send a referral, but they don’t. Missing appointments and leaving people hanging is not the way to build trust.
Think about how this makes you feel. Does it inspire confidence in that person? Are you likely to give them bigger, more critical, more expensive projects in the future?
As a business leader, follow-through is an important quality to develop. That’s because of a simple but profound truth: what you are actually doing matters more than what you say you’re going to do.
You might make all kinds of promises—to be on time, under budget, etc.—but if you don’t deliver on what you promise, how do think that will make others feel? Is it worse if you wrote it down and then failed to keep your promise? They may be mad, disappointed, or feel like they’ve been manipulated.
Here’s what’s worse: if you often don’t do the things that you say you’re going to do, you’re likely setting your business up for failure. Remember: People want to do business with people that they like and trust. And if they can’t trust you to do what you say you’re going to do, then do you think they will want to continue to do business with you? Probably not!
Relationships thrive on trust and respect. When others feel like they can’t trust you because you’re too unreliable, their respect for you will be diminished. And when that happens, they will likely go elsewhere.
A key to lasting success is the actual follow-through of doing what you say you’re going to do. People will travel a long way for something that they know is reliable, and will pass by lots of cheaper, faster, unreliable options on the way. And as we all know, bad news travels more quickly than good news. Making and keeping your commitments is crucial.
Here are three steps to help you keep your word:
1. Only say “yes” when you’re sure you can do it. Don’t agree or promise to do something unless you’re 100% sure you can do it. This is hard, because we love to please people! But remember that if you say “yes” and fail to complete the task, they will not be pleased.
2. Put the work on your calendar. Set reminders if needed! Make sure to include enough time in your schedule for setbacks and other things that can throw you off-course. No one knows when they will be ill or have an emergency, so plan ahead.
3. Break large projects into smaller projects, and set a completion date for each task. This is great for estimating as well as for keeping your word. By breaking down big projects into reasonable and doable pieces, you’ll be more likely to do them.
Of course, sometimes things can happen beyond your control. When that occurs, own up to it—don’t make excuses. Be honest and offer to make it right with the other person.
The next time you say you’re going to do something, remember the Nike slogan: “Just Do It!” By doing what you say you’re going to do, you’re showing others that you respect their time and want to provide them value. And that can go a long way to building successful business relationships.