How Valuable is Your Word?

· September 21, 2016

“That truly is a man of his word.” 

You don’t really hear anyone saying that, nowadays, do you? The truth is that men and women of their word are very scarce. Have you stopped to think about what your word is really worth? 

Many believe that, in order to survive in this competitive world, it’s necessary to lie, say half-truths, break contracts, and leave people hanging. They don’t pay much attention to keeping their word, and ever since excuses rolled around, everyone has the potential to look good.

However, those who reason this way have a pretty limited mindset. In the long run, these habits give you the reputation of someone who is irresponsible, insensitive and deceitful. The truth is that this won’t help you in any area of your life, whether professional, social or family-related.

Your word defines you

There’s nothing that grants a person more dignity than honesty.

A great deal of broken promises originate in situations in which you are pressured to say “yes.” The first step towards honesty is learning to say “no.” How can this be? Well, it may be that you feel embarrassed to say: “I don’t understand,” “I don’t know very much about this topic,” “I don’t think I can get it done by that date,” or “I won’t be able to meet that schedule or quota.”


However, even if this isn’t exactly what your boss, your client or your co-worker wants to hear, they will undoubtedly appreciate it more than if you say: “Yes, of course” and fail to follow through.

Besides, if you keep your word, they will have a positive image of you. Many people and companies are willing to provide training or even a longer timeline with which to work, as long as they know they’re working with an honorable person.

They may not hire you for this job or event, but in the future, when they need a person they can trust, they’ll come to you. However, in order to make this work, you will need to have two more virtues which are also pretty scarce: humility and modesty.

Humility

No one knows everything, so why do we tend to feel pressured to speak with authority about certain subjects, when the truth is that our knowledge about it is fairly limited? We even become ashamed to ask questions and ask for help. The root of this behavior is very possibly a lack of self-esteem. If we feel insecure about how we are perceived by others, we’re more likely to feel pressured to exaggerate our abilities. 

But, stop and think for a minute: don’t you have lots of other talents and abilities? Then, are you really worth less because you don’t master one particular area? Of course not!

Besides, remember that if you don’t express your doubts, you’ll never learn. If you make it clear that this is the first time you are pursuing this type of endeavor, then those around you will have realistic expectations. Instead of thinking: “Wow, I thought he was supposedly an expert,” they’ll think: “Wow! That’s not bad for a first-timer.”

Modesty

Modesty is being conscious of our limitations. A modest person knows what they are capable of achieving and how long it will take them. Each person functions at their own rhythm and has different amounts of energy. So if you frequently fail to follow through on your commitments, it’s a sign that you don’t know yourself well enough.

For example, a modest person doesn’t say that they can arrive in half an hour if they have to finish a report, answer two emails and cross the city in rush hour. Avoid these types of situations by thinking before you speak.

So, before promising your cousin that you’ll help him move on Saturday, think about the week that lies ahead of you. Whether, realistically, you can be there at 6:00 am, or after lunch, or if unfortunately, you won’t be able to cooperate on this occasion. You can say something like: “I’ll call you on Friday when I have a better idea of my availability.”

The truth is that so-called “white lies,” exaggerations and broken promises undermine your integrity. On the other hand, humility and modesty help you to become a person of integrity in all areas of life.

Image courtesy of Pablo Fernandez