Robert restated his commitment to Oscar’s project. He said he “couldn’t wait to get started and would give it his all.“
Oscar was glad to have him on board in spite of some concerns. Robert was unavailable for the first two weeks of the project, and when he showed up he seemed distracted.
There Was A Disconnect
Robert’s words set a level of expectation in Oscar’s mind. Unfortunately, his words didn’t match his attitude and behavior. There was a good reason he wasn’t available at the beginning; that wasn’t the problem. It was the distraction that didn’t match the expectations. Distraction doesn’t jibe with his stated commitment and “giving it his all.” Oscar didn’t know what to think. He didn’t know what to expect from Robert. As a result, he didn’t know if he could count on Robert. Ouch.
When you speak, people form opinions. If the ensuing attitude and behavior don’t match, it confuses them. They don’t know what to think of you. This makes people uneasy, especially if they are counting on you.
Just as Robert’s distraction negated his “giving his all”, other phrases can cause disconnects. If you tell someone you’ll do “whatever it takes” and then don’t follow through, you have a problem. If you agree to take on a responsibility and then fail to perform, you have a problem. There are many potential examples.
If you out-perform people’s expectations, people are pleasantly surprised, If you under-perform, disappointment sets in. It may be possible to change people’s opinions with consistent behavior, but it takes considerable time and effort.
If your integrity and character match expectations, good for you. When people who are counting on you start to question your integrity and commitment, you have a problem. Your reputation suffers as does, potentially, your career. It serves you well to choose your words carefully so you set appropriate expectations. Maintain your integrity.
Some Words Belie Commitment
Sometimes the words themselves lack commitment. In Star Wars, Yoda famously told Luke there is no “try”, only “do”. Try implies an effort but not a commitment. Other phrases that undermine your commitment include: “I’ll do my best” and “I’ll see what I can do.” A stronger response might be: “Let’s get this done” or “Whatever it takes.” Use the words that most clearly describe your position.
Respect For Self And Others Makes A Difference
You have the most to gain or lose by speaking carelessly. This happens if you take something lightly, not recognizing its importance. It happens if you get so wrapped up in your own world you don’t consider the affect it has on others. You might not even care in the particular situation, not realizing the effect on your future.
Care enough about yourself to also care about the effect you have on others so you can maintain the character and reputation you desire. Manage your integrity. Stay alert to the effect you have on others.