From Issue: 494 [Read full issue]
Keeping commitments is the 'Big Kahuna' of all behaviours. It's the quickest way to build trust in any relationship - be it with an employee, a boss, a team member, a customer, a supplier, a spouse, a child, or the public in general. Its opposite - to break commitments or violate promises - is, without question, the quickest way to destroy trust.
Obviously this behaviour involves making commitments as well as keeping them. To paraphrase my friend Roger Merill, when you make a commitment, you build hope; when you keep it, you build trust. Given the impact of violating commitments, it's vital to be careful with the commitments you make.
However, the counterfeit of this behaviour is to make commitments that are so vague or elusive that nobody can pin you down, or, even worse, to be so afraid of breaking commitments that you don't even make any the first place.
Keeping commitments is based on the principles of integrity, performance, courage, and humility. It's the perfect balance of character and competence. Particularly, it involves integrity (character) and your ability to do what you say you're going to do (competence).
When it comes to dealing with a commitment to a client, people tend to be more rigid. But when it comes to a family commitment, they tend to be more flexible - sometimes simply because they're trying to provide for their families and they tend to justify breaking those commitments more easily. Because keeping commitments has such an impact on trust - and because trust is so vital to a thriving family culture - it's wise to keep in mind that commitments to family members are often the most important commitments of all.
Also, making and keeping commitments to yourself is the key to success in making and keeping commitments to others. That's where it all starts, and that's what gives you the power and confidence - the Self Trust - that enables you to build trust with others.
"The Speed of Trust" - Stephen M. R. Covey, pp. 215-220