When you fail to deliver on a promise

Andrea Howe
Category : Weekly tips June 29, 2017

This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.


There’s no tip this week. It’s Wednesday a.m. right now (tips go out on Tuesday). I just had an honest conversation with myself about the reality of getting a tip out and, well, you see the outcome. Before I sign off, though, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on what happens when you fail to deliver on promises, and how to salvage trust in the process. (So I guess that makes this a partial tip.)

Here are a few things that come to mind for me right now:

  • It feels gross to admit it. One of the biggest barriers for me in addressing any kind of failure to deliver is first admitting it—to myself, and then to others. It stirs up all kinds of junk for me, not the least of which is my own deep-seated fear of disappointing people. While that may be TMI, I share it because I know we all have deep-seated fears, and they stop us from doing the right thing unless we are aware of them and choose to manage them.
  • It’s easy (though unhelpful) to be defensive. One of the first things I wanted to do after admitting this week’s tip failure to myself is figure out how tell you exactly how long it’s been since the only other time I failed to produce a tip (nearly two years!!) out of the many tips (153!!) that I have produced. You see the sneaky way I’m doing it anyway, simply because it makes me feel better. It just doesn’t always make other people feel better, especially when that’s what you lead with.
  • Sometimes it’s good to explain why. Maybe. See point above about defensiveness—explaining can come across that way. It can also help people understand why you failed to deliver, and without that they’re left hanging. (For the record, it’s been a crazy few weeks with Alan and me unexpectedly buying a new home and selling the one we live in now. I’ve fallen behind on just about everything.)
  • It’s OK to be human. The recovering perfectionist in me needs this reminder. A lot. We assume that by admitting something unfavorable we’ll lose trust, when it’s usually the opposite. Vulnerability is paradoxical.

Worry not, we’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled programming next week, when I will tell you about four ways to kick off a project on the right foot, as I had promised last week.

Andrea P. Howe

TAfieldbook

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Andrea Howe

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).
Andrea Howe

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