Your Agreements Show Your Integrity
Except for disease and climatic
disasters, I believe that over 90 percent of the world’s problems result
from people not keeping their agreements.
Think about it. From countries to
corporations to families and friends, most every upset—little or large—can
be traced back to someone not keeping up their end of the bargain.
Wars break out, companies fail,
marriages end, friendships fracture and deals fall through simply because
of broken agreements.
We all make agreements every day. Some
seem small and insignificant: an agreed upon time to meet, a promise to
run an errand. Others are seen as bigger and more important: a formal
contract, signing a loan agreement.
But all of them are important. Because
this is the way trust is earned. A person’s reputation is built upon their
ability to make and keep agreements.
Your life—and the lives of those
around you—will work better when agreements are carefully made and
diligently kept. The quality of your life is in direct relation to the
quality of your agreements.
Here are seven tips to help you become
and remain a person who can be counted upon:
1. Take All Agreements Seriously
When you agree to do something—do it. And do it when you said you would in
the way you agreed to do it. When you agree to meet someone, be sure to be
there and be on time. Agreements with yourself matter, too. If you promise
yourself that you’ll exercise today, keep your promise. Develop the HABIT
of keeping your agreements.
2. Be Careful What You Agree To
Don’t give your word lightly. Many people find it easier to say yes
instead of no. But it’s far better to be a bit guarded with what we agree
to do because we can find ourselves getting over-committed and then unable
to complete what we said we would.
3. Keep Track of Your Agreements
In the course of a week we might enter into dozens of agreements. We
must have some way to track these promises—a follow-up system to keep
yourself—and those you deal with—on top of what was promised. Write them
down. You may have great intentions, but if you forget to do what you
agreed to do, the result is the same as you CHOOSING not to keep your
4. Make Sure Your Agreements Are
With a written agreement you have a prayer. With a verbal agreement
you’ve got nothing but air. It’s always best to have a written
agreement—even if it’s just a letter or note of understanding. It’s much
easier to iron out any confusion later if it was written down and no one
has to rely on the memory of a conversation.
5. Be Careful With Whom You Make
There’s an old adage, "Cheat me once, shame on you; cheat me twice,
shame on me." If you make agreements with people who have a history of not
keeping them, you’re leaving yourself wide open for disappointment.
6. Renegotiate When You’re Unable
to Keep Your Agreement
When you find yourself unable or unwilling to complete an agreement,
always go to the other party or parties and renegotiate. It may be
uncomfortable but it will keep you in integrity and has far more class
than simply not addressing the issue.
7. Manage By Agreement
Instead of just telling someone to do something, ask them if they
would agree to doing thus and so by such and such time. If I tell someone
to do something, they might do it because they were told to do so, but if
I ask them and gain their agreement, I’ve got a lot better chance that
it’ll get done. In using this method, you also find out if your request
was clearly understood.
By paying careful attention to the
agreements we make, tracking them and developing the habit of keeping all
our agreements we become and remain a person of integrity.
Our lives and the world around us work
in direct proportion to the quality of our agreements.