One of the most powerful aspects of promise is rarely engaged in our culture. Consider Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of promise again…
A promise is a declaration, written or verbal, made by one person to another, which binds the person who makes it either in honor, conscience, or law to do or forbear a certain act. A declaration that gives the person to whom it was made a right to expect or claim the performance of forbearance of the act. – Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
This definition delineates the two sides of promise:
- There is the declaration of promise made to another
- And there is the right the person to whom the promise was made, to expect or claim the performance or forbearance of the act.
Incorporating both sides of promise into the equation creates a brand new level of possibility in the relationship.
Usually, when someone makes a promise, the person to whom it is made does not consider themselves an active participant in that promise, except in relation to receiving the result of it from the other.
But, in reality, I can be an active participant in promises made to me being kept. Rather than just wait to see if it is going to happen or not, I can engage it actively along the way. I can claim the “forbearance of the act” before the promise is broken. I can notice warning signs or red flags that indicate something is amiss and intervene to help cause success in completion of the promise before it is too late.
Normally, we wait until after the promise is broken and then, sometimes, hold the other person accountable and inquire as to what happened.
But, being actively involved along the way to participate and collaborate in its successful completion is a much higher level of engagement and will lead to more effective action and better results.
So, the next time someone has made a promise to you and you are concerned as to whether it is going to happen or not, based on what you are seeing, you have options.
- Inquire as to how it is going.
- Ask how you can support them in fulfilling the promise.
- Be an active participant in the bond that promise has created between you.
This requires increased diligence and rigor in the relationship. But, It also increases the connection and integrity of the relationship. It is an essential building block in creating effective action and powerful results.