What Happens When You Keep Your Agreements?

What is going to change when you start keeping your agreements on a regular basis?

We have been talking over the last couple months about making and keeping agreements.  If you have not seen all the posts, here is the first one:  http://www.mclarencoaching.com/set-yourself-apart/

You can scroll through to see all the posts in this series.

I will talk in the final post about what to do in the (inevitable) event that you do not keep an agreement. But for today, let’s envision you keeping your agreements. More than you are now – regularly and consistently. What will that mean for you?

People start to trust you more.

There are many kinds of trust. Not all kinds of trust are necessarily broken when you don’t keep your agreements. Different kinds of trust might include:
• Trusting you will be on time (to meetings and with projects) and keep agreements
• Trusting that you will do good and competent work (whether timely or not)
• Trusting that you will keep confidences
• Trusting that you will be “present” emotionally for what is needed
• And more (probably)

In this series of blog posts we are talking about the practice of agreement-keeping. We are talking about the fact that most people do not reliably and consistently keep agreements with others and that when you start to keep agreements regularly you are going to stand out. This standing out will increase others’ levels of trust in you and that will be good for your business, not to mention your personal life. All results are based on relationships and levels of trust in relationships are important in not only getting things done, but in getting what you need. When we talk about levels of trust in this series of blog posts, then, we are talking about the first bullet point only.trust.1

Standing out as reliable cannot be overstated in business. When people stop trusting you, they stop relying on you. We all know the person who makes a promise and everyone in the room says to themselves or the person next to them, “yeah right.” When people stop relying on you the relationship becomes weaker. People start to believe they need to take care of things on their own. There are three basic elements to strong relationships – communication, commitment and trust. If any of these is weak or missing the relationship suffers. Additionally, a low level of trust will also start to affect commitment levels and the ability to communicate well. Trust is a big deal. There are two ways to build trust by making and keeping agreements. The first, which we have spent significant time on, is keep your agreements. The second, which is coming soon, will address trust-building ways to be if you do not keep your agreement.

There are no large or small agreements; only large or small consequences.

A final note on this topic. Many of us categorize our agreements as “important” or “not important,” “large” or “small.” Different things might happen depending on whether you are breaking your agreement to be on time, to finish work by a certain time, or to bring me coffee. coffeeIt should be noted though, that being seen as reliable will do quite a lot to create and maintain trust with people. And being seen as reliable will be evaluated by most people (even though often somewhat unconsciously) through whether you are reliably keeping all of your agreements. This means there are not really any large or small agreements. There are large and small consequences. If you do not bring me coffee, the consequence is I don’t have coffee and I might be annoyed. If you don’t get that multi-million dollar proposal in on time, we may lose a lot of money and people (including you) may lose their jobs. However, whether we are talking coffee or proposal, on some level trust erodes when you do not do what you say you will, especially when you do it over time. And trust is built when you consistently DO keep agreements – all kinds of agreements.

Next week we will talk about the effects of keeping agreements with yourself. And the final blog post will address trust-building behaviors in the inevitable event that you break an agreement.