Saying Yes to One Thing Means...

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Last week we talked about the Say:Do ratio—in other words, do you do what you say you’re going to do? Are you known for your reliable follow-through, or do you get lost along the path to getting it done?  How you answer these questions is critical because walking around with a low Say:Do ratio can wreak havoc on your personal and professional relationships – eroding others’ trust and confidence in you.

Now, to be fair, most people with low Say:Do ratios are good-hearted and well-intentioned. The challenge arises when they forget that saying yes to one thing means saying no or compromising another. This misstep lands them squarely in an overcommitment minefield, disappointing those around them and creating unnecessary tension. And let me tell you, it’s hard to escape this territory unscathed.

So the question is how do we recover?  Better yet, how do avoid falling into the low Say:Do ratio trap?

Below are 5 practical tips to instantly increase your SAY:DO ratio and restore others’ faith in your word.

  1. Adopt a High Say:Do ratio principle as a core value.  Hold yourself to this gold standard and don’t be afraid to tell people you’re working on it. You’ll find that you’ll build rock-solid relationships and potentially restore fragile ones.  As a leader this is gold.
  2. Stop saying “yes” in the moment.  It feels good to say yes to things as soon as we’re asked. But it feels equally as bad to let people down.  Pause, and evaluate your ability to honor your commitment first.  My good friend and colleague said, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”  Sage advice.
  3. Provide specificity around when and how you’ll get the commitment done so there’s no confusion.  Strong communication around deadlines and outcomes is key here. Being vague just opens the door to disappointment and failed expectations.
  4. Adjust expectations.  If you do overcommit, don’t stress. This is where your integrity can shine through. Apologize and ask for grace in the same way you would likely extend it.  Communicate with the other party and adjust the deadline or expectation.
  5. Direct your energy toward the goals that matter most to you.  Patrik Lencioni said, “If everything is important, then nothing is.” Get clear on how YOU want to spend your time. What matters most to YOU? What are YOUR goals and priorities? Invest your “yeses” where they count; because you’re just one person with the same 24 hours as the rest of the world – so invest your energy wisely.

The Say:Do ratio, is a little idea that packs a big punch!

Each of today’s tips and tricks can immediately restore trust and increase credibility. And each idea has the power to ignite new collaborations and create long-lasting relationships. So what are you waiting for? Go say…and DO!

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