A fundamental for business relationships and business success is to do what you say you are going to do. Doing what you say builds trust and confidence that you are reliable, dependable, and will live up to your commitments and promises.
Unfortunately, this fundamental is far more often preached than actually practiced. All of us are accustomed to other people and businesses not doing what they say and not living up to their promises.
So, how can each of us do what we say every time?
The critical first step in doing what you say is to not say much. That is, do not over-commit. Do not over-promise.
- Learn to Say “No”: Only promise or commit to something important. To everything else, just say “No.” This is one of the fundamentals in all efficiency and effectiveness training and all time management classes. It is also the hardest thing for most people to follow through with. But remember as Steve Jobs said:
It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.
- Be Upfront Blunt: If you are going to say ‘no’, do it immediately and then be done with it. No more: “I will get back to you in a few days and then decide.” It is far better to just say that ‘no’ upfront (politely of course). Otherwise, you will either waste time following up in a few days or chip away at your reputation by not following back up with them. Yes, it may come across as rude in today’s feel good society. But, others will learn to respect you especially if you do fulfill your end of the bargain whenever you promise to do something.
- Avoid Those Cavalier Statements and Empty Promises: These are the one-liners; the little statements that you promise somebody in order to leave the meeting with something positive or to hammer in the final nail in order to close the sale. In reality, you likely have no intention of actually fulfilling the promise. Whenever this is the case, it is just better to say nothing.
- Under-Promise: What has made Zappos and Amazon.com so successful? They do not over-commit. The shipping that they promise will take 5 – 8 days usually comes in 3 – 5 days or less. Result: a satisfied customer. Likewise, give yourself an extra day or two to get something done to ensure that you get it done within the time frame committed.
Once you “say less”, you will no longer have to chase down and follow up on innumerable small, usually unimportant commitments or tasks. Instead you can dedicate the time to follow up on the few important promises and obligations that you have made. In the end, you build your reputation and become known as someone dependable, someone who others can trust, someone who others want to do business with, and someone who “does what they say.”