Keeping Your Word


"Your word is your most important business asset." 

Tom Hanson and Birgit Zacher Hanson


Most of us know that keeping our word is important. It affects our relationships with our clients, our relationships with our families and friends, and just as importantly, it affects our relationship with ourselves. 

According to Who Will Do What By When, "when you are in integrity, you have done what you said you would. When you operate in integrity, things work a lot better in your life. Good things happen. When you are out of integrity – when you say one thing but do another – things don’t work so well." 

Doing what you said you would do might sound very simple. In reality, many people are very casual when they give their word about something. 

For example, why do people often say "sure, I'll call you" after a first date, even when they have no intention of calling? Or why does a business owner tell a client he'll have the proposal completed by Friday, and it's already the following Tuesday? 

What impact do these kinds of unfulfilled, casual comments cause? It may seem simple...just an "I didn't really mean it" kind of comment. In fact, many people don't even realize they're actually making a commitment when they speak; they take their own words very loosely. 

However, the impact is much greater. In a business relationship, the client loses trust in the business. Over time, that client may take his or her business elsewhere. 

In a personal relationship, again, trust is lost. And the person who broke the agreement loses trust in his/herself. "Whether you are aware of it or not, your opinion of yourself takes a hit when you don’t honor your word," according to the book. 

Take a mental look at the people in your life that you truly respect and value. Often the people we most respect and admire are also the people who are true to their word, clear in their communication, and people we can count on. 

Now, if someone you know made their own mental list of these people, would you be on their list? 




  1. Take a look at your business and personal life, and see if there are places where you might not be keeping your word. 
  2. What is it costing you to be out in integrity in this way?
  3. If you are surprised to find that you aren't keeping your word as often as you'd like, you're not alone! So start small. Start by simply being aware of how you're using your word to make promises.
  4. By becoming aware, you'll also start being very careful about making commitments. You'll start only making those commitments that you know you can keep.
  5. And in life, things sometimes come up. So if you know you won't be able to keep a promise you've made, let the person know right away. And offer an alternative. 
  6. Enjoy the progress you're making!