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Follow Through

Have you ever been stood up for a date? Have you ever bought a product based on the features and benefits highlighted on the package, only to find out it didn’t live up to its advertised promises? When you say, “Talk to you soon” or “I’ll call you later” or “Let’s have lunch” to someone, do you actually do it?


All of these examples have one thing in common: good intentions, but poor follow-through.

Why is this important to communication? Research has shown that on average, humans speak 7,000 words per day, or more. We say a lot, but how much of it do we mean? When we say we are going to do something, how often do we actually do it?


That’s where the importance of follow-through comes in.


In business, at home, in your social networks, if you want to be known as reliable and trustworthy, the most effective way to communicate that to others is to follow up your words with actions. That means if you tell a friend you’re going to call them later, call them later that day. If you tell an employee or a co-worker that you’ll have lunch soon, then schedule it with them that week or for the following week. If you tell a client you’ll send them a quote, make a point to send the quote within 24 hours.


When you keep your word with others, you communicate to them that they’re important to you. You also show them your character, that you are a person of integrity and honesty. On the other hand, when you don’t keep your word, people might feel disappointed and insignificant, and as a result, you can lose credibility with them because they may view you as someone who can’t be taken at their word.

And that’s perhaps one of the most important aspects of communication—to develop a reputation of doing what you say you’re going to do.

“BECAUSE I SAID I WOULD”

Several years ago, I was on a Southwest flight reading their in-flight magazine. I came across an article about a young man named Alex Sheen who had recently lost his father to lung cancer. Because his father was always good about keeping his promises, Alex entitled his eulogy “Because I Said I Would” and created what he calls the “Promise Card” as a tribute to his father.


The idea behind the Promise Card is to help hold people accountable for their commitments to others. Alex believes that we can all contribute to the betterment of humanity by keeping our promises to one another, so he gives Promise Cards away at no cost, and they can be downloaded for free from his website at becauseisaidiwould.org. Since his father’s passing and the creation of the Promise Card in 2012, Alex’s “because I said I would” nonprofit organization has distributed more than 11.3 million Promise Cards to more than 153 countries, by request only.


Imagine the positive impact you can make on others if you followed through on the things you committed to … because you said you would! Not only that, think of the influence you could have on others, inspiring them to follow through on their promises as well. This chain reaction of promises kept is exactly what Alex Sheen envisioned.


YOUR CHALLENGE

For the past nine weeks, we’ve explored proven tools and practical exercises that you can use to improve your communication. By now, you should have a lot of practice under your belt, and I hope you’re seeing the benefits of all your hard work!


Your final challenge is to print the Week 10 Communication Challenge Worksheet, which contains six Promise Cards that you can cut out. Use them to hold yourself accountable for keeping your word when communicating with others. You can print more cards as needed or order free cards from becauseisaidiwould.org.


Here are several ways you can use the Promise Card, as shown on Alex Sheen’s website:


DIFFERENT WAYS THE PROMISE CARD CAN BE USED:


The Promise

  1. Write your promise on the card.

  2. Give the card to the person you’re making the promise to.

  3. Fulfill your promise.

  4. Get your card back and keep it as a reminder that you are a person of your word.

The Trade

  1. You and another person write promises to each other on separate cards.

  2. Exchange cards with each other as a symbol of a mutual commitment.

  3. Fulfill your promises.

  4. Trade your cards back and keep them.

The Post

  1. Write your promise on the card.

  2. Take a picture of the card.

  3. Post it on social media to help hold yourself accountable.

The Goodbye

  1. Write your promise on the card.

  2. Leave the card with a loved one who has passed.

  3. Fulfill your promise as a memorial to them.

The Calendar

  1. Write a different promise or goal on 52 separate cards.

  2. Each week select one card at random.

  3. Fulfill the promise.

  4. Share the experience in a blog, on social media or in a personal journal.

COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE WRAP-UP


Thank you for following my 10-week communication challenge series! I hope that by the end of this final week, you feel more equipped and confident as a communicator, both at work and at home. Remember, the only way you get better at communication is to practice! Tackle one area at a time, become really good at it, and then move on to the next area that you would like to improve on. And, if you ever need a refresher on any of the topics that were covered in my blog, you can print out the worksheets at any time and go through the exercises again.

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