Everyone knows this golden rule: “Do unto others as you’d have done to you.” But I think that fewer people are familiar with this one:
“If you say you are going to do something, follow through.”
There are some people who never volunteer to do anything. Others simply don’t respond when asked to do a favor they aren’t interested in doing, or don’t have time for.
And then there are the people who say yes, and then let you down. These are the most annoying people, don’t you think? They lose more points for being reminded and still shirking their responsibility, and still more points if you did something for them recently, they told you that they’d love to reciprocate in a specific way, and then they never followed through.
Look, we’re all busy. There’s just no way we can be all things to all people. Therefore, I encourage you to stop for a moment and think before you agree to take something on. Please do not say yes just because you are non-confrontational or a people pleaser, because I guarantee that you will risk a much more awkward confrontation and will definitely not please the person if you do not deliver once your action is expected. Those of you in positions of authority or who are high-profile in your industries or organizations are not excused from this advice. You may not see any consequences from dropping the ball now, but you never know when the person you’ve let down might be the one from whom you need help. Unless their long-term memory is seriously compromised, there will be trouble.
If you’re worried about forgetting what you said you’d do, write the item on your to-do list and leave it there until it’s completed. I’ve also gotten into the habit of asking people to e-mail me in a month and remind me if I can’t help them right then and there but think I can in the future. It has saved me more than once!