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5 Tips to Help You Keep Your Promises

promises photoWe make commitments to others and ourselves all the time. The question is: Do we keep them?

When we fail to keep a promise, it communicates to the other person that we don’t value him or her. We have elected to place something else ahead of our commitment. This can result in an erosion of trust in our relationships.

More importantly, we are telling ourselves that we don’t value our own word. Not keeping a promise to yourself is the same as disrespecting yourself. Eventually, it can harm our self-esteem, confidence, and experience of life.

Make it concrete

Make sure that are certain that you will be able to do something before you commit to it. Then be clear on the expectation, action, or result that is agreed to. Then set a firm deadline. Firm promises that are set in stone are more likely to be kept. Never make a promise that you are not sure you can keep.

Get it in writing

Businesses and professionals most often get themselves into trouble when they have made a verbal agreement. The difficulty with verbal agreements is that they are often vague and tend to be perceived differently by both parties. You may not even agree when a promise or agreement unfulfilled, because you have differing views on what precisely was promised.

Memories are faulty, perception is skewed, and wording tends to be unclear. Make it a practice to get professional agreements in writing. This makes is much easier for both parties to keep their word. When both parties are very clear on what is expected; it is more likely that agreements will be upheld.

Small promises count

People often dismiss small promises as unimportant, but that is just not true. You don’t call back when you say you will, you don’t repay a loan that’s outstanding, or maybe it just doesn’t seem important to keep a confidence. If you fail to take the minor promises seriously, you destroy trust and damage your reputation.

Failing to keep these small promises gives the appearance of being disorganized and irresponsible. You make the other person feel dismissed and unimportant. Conversely, you can build trust by demonstrating that you keep your word even on seemingly inconsequential things.

Perhaps even more important, when people realize that you consistently keep smaller promises, they will reasonably believe that you can keep your word on important things. This will actually help build your reputation as a trustworthy person.

Do it anyway

Don’t rationalize or make excuses for yourself. Push yourself a bit, work a little longer, sacrifice something else, persist, and persevere, despite what it costs you. Both the external and internal cost of failing will be much higher.

Following through on a difficult promise not only gives you satisfaction, but also raises the level of respect you receive from others. If you truly want to be successful in life, have high quality relationships, and advance your career or business, hold promises as sacred agreements, don’t miss deadlines, and make a practice to follow through on your commitments. Don’t make excuses.

That said, on rare occasions something truly unavoidable prevents you from making a deadline or keeping a promise. When this happens, ask to alter the promise or be released from the agreement. Most people will understand if you have consistently kept your promises in the past.

Expect the same of others

Most often, people will keep their word. You should expect the best of people and give them your trust until they prove they are not worthy of it. Don’t make the mistake of taking agreements you make with others lightly. Be clear about what they are promising, and then hold them to it.

However, when someone fails to keep their word, don’t excuse them. Be clear and honest in your disappointment. Remind them of their broken promise and let them know how failure to act on their part has inconvenienced you, cost you, hurt you, or let you down.

When this happens, don’t expect them to keep their promise in the future. Trust once damaged, must be earned again. Be sure to surround yourself with those types of people that you can depend on. Then you can be relatively confident they will follow through on their promises and you don’t need to check up on them.

Post originally written for lifehack.org

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How Do You Deal With the Elephant? And Why It’s Important

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Just think about this for a minute. Think about how you react when faced with a situation where there is an obvious “elephant in the room.” You know what I’m referring to – unresolved conflicts, difficult conversations, hard feelings, anger, embarrassment, hurt feelings, touchy subjects, things that make you fidget internally (maybe externally too.)

It’s that uncomfortable “thing” that’s there, you can’t see it, but you can sure feel it.

How do you behave? What are you thinking? What’s your strategy for getting through the discomfort?

We pretty much fall into 3 camps.

The Evader“If I ignore it, it’ll just go away.” To this person the thought of conflict causes a great deal of anxiety. They prefer to leave it alone and live with the discomfort. Perhaps they’re afraid of the consequences, perhaps they simply don’t know what to do.

Either way they turn away from the elephant and try to pretend he’s not there – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…

The Prompter“This must be resolved. It’s driving me nuts. I have to do something.” To this person anything unresolved or uncomfortable that’s left hanging out there is a source of great frustration and anxiety, a thorn in the side.

They can’t rest until the elephant is addressed…so they poke it to prompt a dialogue, sometimes with a gentle nudge to start the conversation, sometimes with a sharp jab to get the elephant’s full attention. Again sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t – resolution or escalation…

The Accepter “I really don’t need to address this.” This person believes either the elephant is not a big deal, it’s not their responsibility, there is nothing they can do to resolve the issue or it’s simply not the appropriate circumstance. This is different from avoiding or ignoring. This person accepts that the elephant is there, but has intellectually determined that it does not require addressing for whatever reason.

What differentiates this person from their cousin, The Evader, is that there is no anxiety, only acknowledgement. It certainly seems that this strategy would be less stressful, but there is a risk of evasion being masked as acceptance and a reluctance to act even when appropriate. It’s a balancing act and again sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

One is not necessarily better than the other; it’s often a matter of personality, priorities and communication style.

But the reality is that the way we deal with the elephant in the room is also the way we handle life in general. (Feel free to Tweet that.)

So the question to be asked is not whether your style and strategy is wrong or right, but whether it best serves you. Does it cause or alleviate stress? Does it help get the results you want or interfere?

Something to think about…

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The Most Important Question You Can Ever Ask

Some may argue the most important question is “What am I here for?”

But I think it’s actually…

“What can I learn today?”

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Because in reality you cannot answer any of the other important questions in life if you’re not seeking to learn, learn about yourself, learn about others, and the world and life itself.

Think of the journey of life as a learning project. But not in the way of “What’s wrong with me?” More in the way of harnessing your learning as a way to explore your greater potential.

This learning paradigm does not presume anything is wrong with you; it says simply that there are things you can learn to make your life, your relationships, and your work more satisfying, more easeful and more productive.

As you move through your day, in fact, as you go throughout the weeks, months, and years of your life, return often to the question “What do I most need to learn right now?”

And realize that your journey is not about being right or better than anyone else; it’s really about learning what most needs to be learned.

Care to share what you’ve learned today?

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If You Choose a Frog…You’ll End Up in a Pond…

If you choose a frog

 

 

You know that saying about…if you keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result…well, it’s kind of like that…except worse.

Please people…for the love of everything holy…stop thinking you’re going to change other people! It’s not only insane…it’s a bit egotistical if you ask me…

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Did You Know That Healthy Relationships Have A Magic Number?

 

Did you know that healthy relationships have a magic number? This magic number I’m talking about is the 5:1 ratio of positive versus negative interactions that research has shown correlates to a happy, stable, positive relationship.

So the next time you’re tempted to criticize, blame, dismiss, or ignore…make sure you’ve already given lots of positive interaction…

Show affection

Be caring and considerate

Pay attention

Be a good listener

Express appreciation

Give praise and compliments

Forgive without blaming

 

How can you tell if the magic ratio in your relationship is unbalanced? Notice how you and the other person in the relationship interact with each other. For every negative interaction that takes place, are there several positive interactions?

It’s interesting to note that the relationship ratio is the most accurate predictor of divorce…it might also be the best predictor of how involved your children will be in your lives when they’re adults…so it’s worth paying attention to.

Do you have thoughts or suggestions for upping the positive ration in our relationships?

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