Monday, May 31, 2010

The Process of Making And Keeping Commitments

Our relationships with other people are vital to our effective participation in the world. We live in a world of engagement and the language we choose to use creates a precessional power that ripples outwards. Somewhat similar to the reaction that occurs when we drop a pebble in a pond. We use language to not only describe our world but to create it. And effective communication, including keeping our commitments is central to that. Keeping commitments is a crucial factor for every family, friendship or partnership, and for every team, association, or organization. Every one of these groups is comprised of us, and others, engaging in a continuing cycle of conversations and commitments.

Of all the types of conversations we have, the most potent and productive is when we make an offer to another, or when we request a commitment from another. And when that offer or request is accepted this can be characterized as 'The Promise Cycle'.  This simple act of making and managing promises then creates a mutual commitment from one person to another to take a specific future action.

And the responsibility that accompanies a promise is to do 'what' we said we would do, do it to the 'standard' to which we committed, and to do it at the 'time' we committed to. In other words, we must deliver what we promise, to the standard we promise and when we promise. The effectiveness of this process relies on the clarity of the conditions. In other words, how well formed and well expressed the commitment is, and how well it's understood by both people.  

The promise cycle can be described this way. When you offer to do something for another as an: Offer + Acceptance = Promise, or when another makes a request of you as a: Request + Acceptance = Promise. In life we bind ourselves to each other through promises and we begin to drift when we don't deliver on those promises. Therefore the making and keeping of commitments is an important element of our communication. It determines predictability, certainty and continuity in all our various relationships.

Now imagine the profound impact that would occur in every aspect of life if all members of your family, your team, your associations, or your organization kept their commitments? Mutual trust would increase, and as a result efficiency, effectiveness and productivity would grow exponentially. Trust is central to our identity. Such a simple process; such a profound impact. And In an organizational setting; understanding and using this process allows team and business leaders to develop a committed, collaborative, high-performance culture.

Now think of one instance in both your personal life and professional life where you have made a promise and delivered on that promise.

Then think of one instance in both your personal and professional life when you have made a promise and not delivered on that promise.

What were the implications and results?

What could you have done, or would you now do, differently?
Make it a great day!
Lloyd Dobson  :)


glynahumm said...

This is such a great reminder to all of us! You would think it is common sense and common courtesy to come through on the commitments we have made with other people, but unfortunately it isn't. Everyone needs to read this and be reminded of the Promise Cycle:)

Val Wilcox said...

Commitments should be followed through on. In a perfect world, everyone will complete everything they say they will in a timely manner. So we work towards that goal,
Val ;)

Eddie Espiritu said...

Absolutely! We are nothing without integrity or keeping our commitments.

Commitments in relationships, in business, in life...the world would certainly be a better place if we all practiced this.

But it starts with US.


Nelson said...

Commitment is the backbone of Relationship marketing. When we fail to deliver, no matter what has transpired, our reputation is tarnished. Thanks for posting this important fact.

Karla Bond said...

I totally agree. To me keeping commitments in your life shows what type a person you are. If you say yes then you must follow through. I want to be remembered for the type of person that always kept her word.

Nancy Burke Barr, JD said...

Hello Lloyd!

So glad to be back to visit! I am really pleased to have read this particular post. Although I am by no means perfect, my general nature is to go way out of my way (almost to the extreme) to keep my promises. It is only when I forget that I have broken promises and even then, I do not see it as an excuse.

For example, I am so busy and overcommitted with the end of the school year (I have 2 children graduating from 2 different schools) that I really should have taken myself off the TSA list for this week. It did not sink in until today. By that time, others have syndicated me and I could not let them down. Some people would just blow it off, but I am not able to do that. By failing to mark the list red, I made an implicit promise.

It is difficult for me to understand why some people can ignore their promises. Maybe they never really agreed to the promise, but never said it.

I hope that we will all examine our actions and remember how precious a promise is.

Thanks for your insight into this complicated topic!

Mentor Mama

DrErica said...

Lloyd, In general, I will keep my commitments, often no matter what. Then I find so many other people who keep their promise if convenient and change their mind if not. That really frustrates me. For me it is important to keep my promise or to re-negotiate if for some reason I find I can't.
At this point I only want to work with people that I trust will do what they say they will.

Nelson said...

LLoyd it would be a sad world if people didn't do what you say here. Promises and keeping them give backbone to our society. Thanks for posting this important topic.

Dolphin Steve said...

I'm reminded of a book by a couple of corporate consultants (husband/wife team) I knew several years ago. The book is "Who Will Do What By When?: How to Improve Performance, Accountability and Trust with Integrity" by Tom and Birgit Zacher Hanson. Tom and Birgit hit right on the nose the very points you've made in your post. It used to be that one's word was his bond. In many circles that is still the case. Thanks for reminding us all that it is still the best philosophy.