Can I Really Count on You? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

 We’re all busy, and we all have a lot of personal and professional priorities tugging at us. It’s easy to fall into the trap of over committing ourselves. There are several pitfalls to this bad habit. One of these is having to cancel on commitments you’ve made, whether it’s bringing cookies to the class party or having to miss an important business conference because we’ve fallen behind at work.

Over committing yourself takes a toll on you, leaving you tired and feeling guilty. But, it also takes a toll on those you have to cancel on, and takes a toll on your reputation, too.

One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is that this person is a “person of their word”. If you want to be viewed as a leader in your business, your community or your family, you must be someone others can count on.

When we drop the ball and don’t come through on a commitment we’ve made, it isn’t usually intentional, and it isn’t usually because we believe the commitment wasn’t worth our time. It is generally a problem of over-scheduling ourselves or being unable to say no when we’re asked to do something.

Both of these problems are worth taking the time to solve. Keep a calendar at all times that includes your personal commitments as well as business commitments, and be sure this calendar makes room for down time. When you can see in print how busy you are, you might think twice about committing to something else. In addition, you can see right away if you already have an appointment on your calendar that would interfere with this upcoming event.

Learning to say no is very difficult for many people. However, if you are regularly backing out on commitments you’ve made, the damage you’re doing to others is worse than if you’d said no when asked. If you say no upfront, the person has time to make other arrangements. When you back out at the last minute, or fail to follow through, you may leave others in a bind.

Being a person of your word is important in all of your relationships. If you tell a customer you’ll call them back on Tuesday with an answer to their question, it’s important to call them on Tuesday, even if you don’t have an answer, simply because you said you would. If you promised your daughter you would be at her dance recital, you can’t pick that night to work late.

Take stock of how much people can really count on you to do what you say you will. If you find you’re lacking in this area, make strides to improve your credibility.