Breaking a commitment? Speak up about it!

Following through with a commitment matters in virtually everything you do. Doing what you say you’re going to do matters in relationships, whether they be personal, professional or romantic. But one thing matters more than following through: speaking up when you can’t follow through with something.

Think about all the times someone has let you down too late. Maybe a date stood you up at the prom or a client promised a meeting only to call you 20 minutes afterward to cancel. It feels awful, but you always have that thought in the back of your mind: “I wish they would have told me sooner.”

Telling someone you won’t be able to fulfill a commitment or duty is essential for many reasons, but especially because it saves them time and, in effect, money. It also allows them to make other arrangements if necessary, as the case might be with the prom goer example. The most important reason to alert someone in advance, though, is out of respect, and every reason falls from that.

That brings me to my next point. About a week ago, I made a commitment to post a blog entry once a day. I have done all right for the past week or so, at least in my opinion. However, as classes and my part-time assistantship starts back up Monday, my schedule is going to change immensely in the next couple of weeks. Add to that a thesis project that’s due in a few months and a job search I’m just getting started and you see I’ve got a lot to juggle.

So, I’m writing this post to regretfully take back my post-a-day commitment, but I’m hoping I won’t lose you. I’m still making a commitment: I’m going for the one post per week commitment and we’ll see how that goes. But I figured, as time has proven in the past, it’s better to speak up when you can’t follow through with something than to sit on it and leave people wondering.

That’s where I’m at in life. What do you think about foregoing and discussing commitments like this on a professional or personal level? What should people remember when they deal with similar situations?

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