• Utilizing the Promise Timeline to Sustain Trust

This is where the power of the model reveals itself. How do I minimize the amount of trust that may be lost if I am unable to fulfill the promise? By communicating at the earliest point on the timeline when I discover that I will be unable to fulfill this promise. Let’s say after leaving Bob’s office and returning to my desk, I receive a call from a valuable client explaining a matter that requires my urgent attention and a great amount of my time. It would be wise for me at this point, to return to Bob’s office and inform him that I will not be able to deliver the report as originally stated and initiate a discussion about viable alternatives. Let’s say 30 minutes elapsed from the time I made the promise (Point X) to my second conversation with Bob, the amount of trust lost is minimal at best (close to 0%). Bob has only had 30 minutes to start making plans around my promise. Although Bob may be disappointed, he is happy he didn’t make more plans and become totally reliant on me fulfilling this promise.

Now let’s look at the other side of the timeline. Let’s say, I never returned to Bob’s office after the call with the client. I try my best to complete the report in the midst of handling my client’s emergency. Tomorrow comes and I haven’t even started the report, I still try to complete the report in the midst of constant distractions. I walk into Bob’s office at 4:30pm harried and overwhelmed. I tell him how the report is only 30% complete and explain to him what happened, when I left his office yesterday. Now the amount of trust lost is close to its maximum point (100%). Bob has spent almost two days making plans around the belief that the promise I made would be fulfilled by 5:00pm today. How do you think Bob feels? Do you think Bob will rely on me the same way if a similar opportunity presents itself? This event is imprinted in Bob’s brain and how he will interact with me in the future will be influenced by this event.

I have been intentional in only focusing on what happens when a promise is not fulfilled, to emphasis the fact that we do not live in a “black and white” world of fulfilled (Good) and unfulfilled (Bad) promises. We all know fulfilled promises increases trust in a relationship, but some of us are not aware that we can actually sustain trust in our relationships when promises are unfulfilled.

So here are my 5 gems for utilizing the “Promise Timeline” to sustain trust:

  1. Make realistic promises.
  2. Speak to the other person, when you are challenged to fulfill promise.
  3. When you speak up, your goal should be to find viable alternatives.
  4. Discuss the impact of the broken promise to the relationship.
  5. Establish new agreements on how you will handle future promises.

I wish you amazing success with utilizing the “Promise Timeline” to sustain trust in your present relationships.

Feel free to contact us if you want us to facilitate workshops around this model and other trust-sustaining models for your organization: 954-889-1430 or connect@trustedteams.com.

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