Your relationship with promise and your ability to create trust are inextricably linked.
They are linked two ways:
- Your ability to promise and keep promises directly impacts your ability to create and maintain trust in a relationship with yourself and others.
- And, your ability to extend trust to another directly impacts your willingness to fully engage being a recipient of a promise.
Not embracing the power of promise, and walking out all the challenges and disappointments it includes, greatly diminishes your chance of creating connection, effective action, and maximum results.
Trust and how you hold trust, is at the very heart of this dynamic.
Consider the impact breaking your promise has on:
- Trust in your relationships
- Your own self-esteem and self-image
That is a consideration worth contemplating. Not from a “beating yourself up” point of view. But, nonjudgmentally, from a “counting-the-cost” point of view.
The reality is that a broken promise is a betrayal of a trust. The act of trust is that the person making the promise will fulfill it. The betrayal occurs if they do not fulfill the promise in the manner they promised or we understood they promised.
Not everyone considers a broken promise an act of betrayal. They think of only huge acts of breaking trust, such as infidelity, as betrayals. But, internally, we also relate to smaller broken promises-both explicit and implicit-as betrayals, and they ultimately erode our interest in extending trust to that person.
Missing an appointment, selfishness, unfairness, consistent displays of anger, indifference, expressions of contempt, saying one thing and doing another, and other destructive behaviors—these are all broken implicit (unstated but implied) or explicit (stated) promises in a committed relationship-whether it is a spouse, child or friend.
We may not think of these things in terms of them being a betrayal, but in reality, that is the way they land for the other person-at least unconsciously. That person may excuse your behavior, but it still erodes the relationship.
And guess what? We all do this. We all miss the mark. We are imperfect. So, is this inescapable reality the ultimate excuse to break promises over and over? Not if you desire authentic, connected relationships.
Here are three key orientations that help advance you towards being a powerful promise keeper rather than a promise breaker.
- Own your life. Pay attention to what you actually DO rather than base your self-assessment on your good intentions. Let the actual results be your coach.
- Invite the people you make promises to into the conversational equation of how you are walking the promise out and how to have it happen. In other words, remember there are two sides of promise: you making the promise, and the right of the person promised to expect the fulfillment of the promise. In other words, be an invitation for feedback.
- Become an expert on repairing broken trust when you commit the betrayal of breaking the promise. We will explore this in detail in a future blog.
It is very hard to overestimate the importance of this dynamic in developing and maintaining deep, connected, healthy, and satisfying relationships.
- Not following this often leads to the breakdown of the relationship.
- Following and mastering it will be utterly transformative-both personally and relationally with those you love.