On Commitments

There was a time when a verbal agreement was as good as done. If the average person agreed to do a thing, only an Act of God would prevent it. Commitments were set in stone.

(c) 2009 Glenda Sims // Downloaded 3/13/15 from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged

(c) 2009 Glenda Sims // Downloaded 3/13/15 from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged

That isn’t necessarily so now. People make commitments and don’t follow through. From what some people have told me, they never had any intention of following through. There’s something very sad about that.

Commitments are broken, and getting upset about it would be easy but fruitless.

What causes this breach of commitment? Setting aside those gooberheads who make commitments they intend to break, I don’t believe most breaches are caused by malice. Really I think many people have forgotten how to count the cost of the commitment. They get caught up in the moment and jump in without fully realizing what they’ve gotten themselves into and how it will mesh with other, firm commitments.

At other times, Mack Truck Theory happens. That’s when a virtual Mack Truck comes screaming out of nowhere and flattens all your best laid plans. You do know, right, that one of the Murphy’s Corollaries is that no plan survives first contact with reality.

So what can we do when we see a commitment deadline bearing down and know for sure we’re going to flub it?

If you find you’re about to slip a deadline, contact the other person and let them know. As a rule, people handle disappointment better when they see it coming and know the cause.

If someone breaks a commitment with you, consider a little grace. Try a kind reminder and offer a revised deadline. Relationships are too valuable to throw away on little things. That doesn’t mean you have to perpetually set yourself up for disappointment. If someone has a history of blowing commitments to you, that might be your cue to avoid agreements with that person until their situation or outlook changes.

Sadly, sometimes we reach a point where we can no longer maintain a relationship with someone who constantly fails on their commitments. Such an extreme move should be a last resort, but sometimes that’s all there is. For most other situations, a little kindness, a little grace, and maybe a bit of wariness for the future will go a long way.


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