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Get a Promise

 

Disciplines > Change Management > Creating change > Get a Promise

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

When you want to increase the commitment of a person after they have agreed to do something, ask them to make a verbal statement of what they will do or some other verbal promise of action.

Listen to their response and handle any 'get-out clause' that shows weak commitment, such as 'I will try' or 'If there is time'. If they speak like this, note the importance of the action and ask again for verbal commitment.

It can also help to note how you are now depending on them.

Example

Can you promise to do that, now?

So, can I count on you to deliver tomorrow? ... No, maybe is not good enough. I will have to wait in for you and need a firm commitment. Tomorrow? ... Good. Thank you.

Do I have your word on that? ... Thanks, I'm counting on you.

Discussion

When a person agrees to do something then does not do it, they have to explain this inaction to themself, effectively excusing themself for the wrong they have done. A common excuse is that they did not really commit to the action, perhaps agreeing to do it 'some time' or even just agreeing that it needed doing but it was unclear who was going to do it.

This is the consistency principle in action, where we seek to align our inner thoughts and beliefs with our actions, including our verbal promises. Nobody likes to think of themself as wrong or bad, so we make excuses to ourselves, perhaps also in preparation for using the excuse if we are challenged.

We usually start thinking of the excuse before we break the agreement, justifying this action. At this time we consider the actual words said, mentally replaying the conversation. And if we hear ourselves making a verbal commitment, then we cannot escape the realization that there is no way out and we must do as we promised.

See also

Values, Consistency Principle, Excuses

 

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