Why your word should be your bond, if it isn’t already
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
I remember being a young kid trying to all but extort my parents for whatever I needed—be it a toy, a twist cone from McDonald’s, or a new Nintendo game. One of the foolproof ways to get what you want at that age is to ask for something in advance, and then ask them to promise; generally, grown-ups have too much on their minds to think too far ahead. So, you’ve got a promise. Only they usually denied that they ever promised anything in the first place.
Still, as I used to say, “a promise is a promise.”
That is to say, I used to say it, but I also still say it. Because if you’re going to be a mature, functional adult—particularly if you care about your career—this is important stuff.
Today, the way we socialize is becoming irrevocably altered by technology, and stuff that’s said is also underrated.
One of the single most absurd ways to signal to another person that you’re trustworthy is to swear on someone’s grave. Sit down and think about it for a bit and you’ll see that it’s obnoxious. It’s a superfluous way to say “you’ve got my word, homie,” and whatever trust is being placed in you is in no way as important as your late grandmother.
If you’re trying to establish trust with me and you mention swearing on someone’s grave, I’m going to trust you a hell of a lot less. But, if you pull through for me, at least you can say you’re more respectable than the many people who spew out the word “promise” in a way that’s only slightly more meaningful than spewing out last night’s Fireball.
The meaning behind the word “promise” is not to be taken lightly. The men and women who end up achieving the most respect from their peers are the ones who see their word as their bond. The ones who say “I promise to do something,” and then actually do it. You can’t be told something in confidence, go out and tell a bunch of people, and expect people to place their faith in you. If you make any number of promises to people who trust you and you don’t follow through, you are quite simply the single most useless, weak type of human being—one who’s unreliable and untrustworthy.
If this sounds like you, I’d say a good start wouldn’t be to follow the plot of My Name is Earl and try to right all your past wrongs. Baby steps, to me, would involve not making promises unless you are certain you can accomplish the task. All it takes to get yourself out of possible deep shit in the future is to change a couple of words in a sentence. I respect someone who says, “I can’t promise anything, but I’ll do my best” way more than someone who uses the word so much it becomes devoid of meaning.
There might be situations in the professional world where you have to step over someone’s corpse, and that’s fine. Donald Trump didn’t get rich by opening orphanages and curing cancer. But I would say in general that, even with social media turning millennials into unapologetic flakes, it should be considered socially unacceptable to give someone your word and screw them over.
Your word is your bond.