Imagine you see two movies (if you can find two movies worth seeing!). The critic in you rates them each four out of five stars. Prior to going, you expected the first one to rate three stars and the second one a perfect five.
Did you experience the same level of satisfaction from both movies?
Interestingly, probably not!
If you’re like most people, you left more satisfied after the first one. That’s because it turned out better than you expected. In contrast, you were probably a little disappointed with the second one because it wasn’t as great as you thought it would be.
This illustration demonstrates the importance that expectations play in our lives. The greater the expectations, the greater the risk of disappointment. It also explains why it’s so important to keep your promises. After all, if someone promises you something, you’re entitled to expect they’ll deliver on their word.
Some people habitually overpromise and underdeliver. They promise the moon because they aim to please. They say what people want to hear and feed off of their enthusiasm. However, all they do is create false hope when they can’t deliver on their promises. After a few of these incidents, people will figure them out as manipulators. Their credibility is lost forever.
When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it messages that we don’t value or respect them. Rather, we valued something else more highly than our commitment. We communicate to others that they cannot count on us. This takes a heavy toll on our relationships—personally and professionally.
If anything, it pays to underpromise and overdeliver. By doing so, you’ll pleasantly surprise others by exceeding their expectations. Here are some ideas for what that can look like:
· In your own mind, honestly appraise what you’re willing and realistically able to do for them.
- Allow yourself a “fudge factor” – estimate a slightly longer delivery time, slightly higher cost, slightly lower quality, etc.
- If the project takes longer or costs more, you’ll still be able to come close to your original estimate. And if you’re able to deliver under your original estimate, you look like a hero!
Do yourself and others a big favor. Either deliver on your promises or don’t make them in the first place. It’s a hallmark of integrity!
Have you observed how others have reacted when you failed to deliver on your promises? Why should this be a part of how we train our young people? Do you have any experiences with this lesson? We’d love to hear from you!