The Hell of a Broken Promise

Last week, I was invited to a brainstorming/networking event to help an association reconsider their component relations program. As a former CRP (that's component relations professional) it's one of my favorite topics. A good turnout was expected -- 14. I thought, "wow, this is going to be a blast!" 

The hosts were excited too, and even catered dinner to thank us for our help. Four people showed up. That's right. Out of all the people who said "yes" 10 didn't keep their promise to show up. 

Now, if plans change (as they always do) that's one thing. You call or email and apologize for cancelling but at least you let the host know. But in this case, they just didn't show. We waited extra time to start in case people were running late. We went on with the discussion and we still had a great time and shared ideas and dreamed and stormed our brains. 

But I kept thinking: "how awful. People (the hosts) set aside time, changed their schedules, and even ordered food based on the number of people who said they would participate. I would be annoyed." As I'm sure you would be too reader, if you had planned such an event and were such gracious hosts, only to have your effort treated as if it didn't matter.  

This is the Hell of a Broken Promise. It creates wasted effort, sometimes too much food ordered, and worst of all - disappointment.

While we all do our best to deal with things when they don't go our way, it's still disappointing. And I think that disappointment is one of the worst feelings to have. All the effort, excitement, positive energy, and sometimes faith in the future, are all dimmed or wiped away. Anticipated outcomes seem out of reach or even worse, unrealistic. 

As professionals, some people think "well that's the work world. That's how it is. And I didn't pay money to attend this event/meeting so what do I care?" We should all care because breaking a promise -- which is anytime you say you will do something and then don't -- shows others our opinion of them and their relative importance. 

Promises are made all throughout our world personally, professionally, and politically. They are all equally important although some may be bigger promises than others. For example, promising your spouse you will pick up milk on the way home is not as big as promising to provide universal health care. But, both are promises and both should be kept, or there should be a good reason as to why the promise is not kept. ("Pirates honey! There were PIRATES on the Metro! I had to run for my life and completely forgot about the milk.") 

We like to talk about personal brands, and that means we have a personal brand promise. Your personal brand is your reputation, and in my opinion, most of what makes up your reputation is how you treat other people, whether as an individual, a corporation, or a nonprofit/501c organization. 

Next time you or your organization make a promise, think about the consequences if you don't keep it.

Radio Free 501c out. 


Share this post:

Comments on "The Hell of a Broken Promise"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Jennifer Wickline - Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I've planned dinners for guests at my house and they eat before they come...and I've made it clear that there would be plenty of food. I've also planned workshop similar to above --only to have a couple show up when others said they would come too. Very disappointing. As you said, the right and polite thing to do is to convey your intentions up front. That way wasted time/effort/food is not wasted.

Please login to comment