3 Types of Promises

When you boil it down to its essence, all communication is about coordinating action with people. We fail when we are not precise with our language and intent.

What is evident to me may not be obvious to you.

Relationship trust is established based on our ability to communicate in unison. Healthy relationships are based on promise-making, promise-keeping, and promise-managing. Promises are the foundation for our public identity, effectiveness, and well-being.

We may not call them commitments, but promises are agreements and decisions about who will do what, when, and how. A commitment is a promise to ourselves and a promise to others.

We cannot have shared commitment without shared understanding. Our expectations are based on the promises we think we have made.

Unspoken expectations are premeditative broken promises.

Emotional Promise Cycle

People do not care about your expectations. Or mine. They care about the commitments we make and keep.

A promise is a personal commitment people expect you to honor.

There are three types of promises.

  1. Strong/Healthy Promises
  • Promises I am fully committed to keeping; You can count on me.
  • If I cannot keep my promise, I can renegotiate my original promise
  • i.e., I will meet you for coffee at 8 am. I will complete my assignment on time.

2.— Shallow Promises

  • Look like a firm promise, but an unspoken condition exists.
  • i.e., Yes, I will play golf with you on Saturday (unless it rains or something else comes up)

—3. Criminal Promises

  • Promises that at the moment we make them, we know we have no intention of keeping.
  • i.e., Maybe…My son asks me to play with him when I am done, and I tell him maybe.

Promises unkept are NOT equal to expectations unmet. 

       What promises are you making?

       Are you honoring those promises?

       What promises are you fully committed to honoring?

       What promises do you need to renegotiate?

Personal integrity and honor depend on owning and delivering on our promises. Relationship trust is too valuable to take for granted.

Commit to making STRONG, HEALTHY promises.