Why People Break Promises

In 2015, the Founder of because I said I would gave a TEDxTalk about why people break promises. Here are a few of those reasons:

  1. Overconfidence in memory. The average American speaks over 15,000 words a day. It is impossible to remember everything we commit to if we rely only on our memory. Many people end up breaking promises, both big and small, simply because they forgot or got distracted. We need reminders to keep us focused. What reminders from this list are you using?
    • Calendaring tasks (e.g., reoccuring events in your calendar to remind you of repetitive tasks).
    • Signage in your house (e.g, note on your bathroom mirror)
    • Checklists
    • Digital documents
    • Sticky notes
    • Mobile apps that have notifications or alerts
    • Alarm clocks / digital alarms
  1. Exaggerated word choice. People often make big, outlandish promises without even realizing what their words mean to the party they are committing to. “I will always be there for you.” Statements like that sound comforting, but is that what you really mean? Always? So you’re willing to lose your job to be there for me, right? That may seem like an extreme example, but it’s not. People often use exaggerated words in their promises to sound confident. This is often done subconsciously. The promise maker doesn’t even realize how extreme their statement is. Over the next 3 days, observe how often people speak in absolutes like the ones below. Try to avoid these words unless you really mean them.
    • Always
    • Never
    • Forever
    • Every time
    • Anytime
    • Anything you need
    • No matter what
    • Guaranteed
    • Etc.
  1. They do not respect the finite nature of time. If you are only using your calendar to manage meetings and events, you are not good at time management. I know that may sting a little to hear, but it’s true. Real time management accounts for independent tasks, transportation time, exercise, meals, free time and so many other facets of life. When you have a full picture of our time drawn out on your calendar, you can see into the future and spot problems before the happen. Calendaring helps us:
    • See overlapping commitments
    • Prioritize upcoming tasks
    • Say “no” when you are confident you are overbooked
    • Not miss deadlines because we have accounted for each step
    • Critically think through time limitations 

Watch the TEDxTalk: