Montclair Local Voices: Healing the Break in Promises
By CORINNA SAGER
Recently I did a favor for a friend. I hosted a fundraising event because she’s going into politics. I’m proud of her and of course support her. I sent photos of us after the event. No thank you. I sent another email. No word. Sadly — it’s not the first time. And it reminded me of other disappointments, and broken promises.
Today we live in a world where people say they’ll do things and then don’t follow through. Potential clients say they’ll call, but never do. My Media, Communications and Visual Arts graduate students at Pace University tell me how desperate they are for someone, just one professional with whom they connected in person, to get back to them when they email or call. But no one does. And my mother says she is tired of the many contractors and vendors who promise their work is guaranteed, but when something fails and she calls them to fix it — they never call her back. What society do we live in today? Is a person’s word dead? Is it all just lip service?
I’m tired of lip service. I’m tired of broken promises. I’m tired of people saying they’ll do something they won’t. What happened to responsibility, guts and honesty?
Today we spend more time online than in person with our loved ones. We post selfies, opinions and photos. But where is the caring about others? The true humanity? The human interaction that requires give and take? Poof. Gone!
We are, however, still human and not machines. We each want to be valued, cared for and respected. So we have to remember to give it back as well. Of course, there are times when things just fall by the wayside, when we have to set priorities, when we are overwhelmed. But if you can’t return a call that day, text or email to say when you will call back. And are you really that busy that you can’t even write or say thank you for a wonderful dinner or great party?
I’m sick of all this. I want honesty and guts back. I don’t want: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience,” I want a solution. Just tell me the truth, or don’t make the promise. Because guess what — I can handle the truth. It saves me time and effort.
There’s an old German proverb: “The way you call into the forest is how it echoes back to you.” If you say you’ll call but won’t, don’t expect others to call you back either. If you’re always late, don’t expect others to value your time. If you don’t keep your promise, don’t expect others to keep theirs — and don’t be disappointed when you find out they don’t. You started the cycle.
The other day a potential client who promised she’d call — actually did. What a pleasant surprise. She kept her word. Three weeks ago a customer service rep from my health insurance promised she’d call me back after she was going to figure out what had gone wrong. I never expected to hear from her (by that time I had called them repeatedly for two months). But she did call me back three days later. And she had actually solved the issue.
I was so delighted I told her that this was the first time in years I could remember a customer rep actually doing this. I thanked her profoundly. She said how nice that was to hear. Yes, it can be done!
So let’s cycle back. Let’s cycle back to responsibility. Let’s value each other’s time, each other’s expectations, each other’s knowledge. Let’s appreciate what friends give, what clients offer, what colleagues contribute. And let’s keep our promises. Every time. To every person. In every situation.
We’ll make the world a better place.
Corinna Sager is an international communications expert and public speaking strategist. She has directed, produced and coached for companies around the world, bringing stories to Life - with Style. www.LifeStyleIntl.com
LOCAL VOICES: Local Voices is a forum for residents' essays about issues and subjects that affect them, and will combine individual essays with rotating columns on such subjects as relationships, health, gardening and more. To submit an idea for a series or individual essay, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.