Here's an interesting question: how do you get people to do what they say they are going to do?
The truth is that you cannot *make* anyone do what they can't do, or don't want to do.
And not only that, many people agree to do things because they're unable to say “no" (for whatever reason).
However, there is something you can do, if you find yourself in a position where someone has agreed to do something and is not following through:
- Check in with the person to see if they're still willing and able to do as they promised.
- If not, come up with a new agreement; such as a new deadline, an introduction to another person who *can* follow through, etc.
For instance, recently I had a conversation with someone who had said he'd help me out with a project.
When I did not hear back from him, I called him. Then I called him again. When he called back, he was clearly uncomfortable.
His situation had changed, he said, and he was unable to do what he'd promised. I was disappointed but glad to know the truth - I knew what I was working with.
So I asked if he could recommend others who'd be able to help and he did. He sent me a long list of referrals later that day, and I was on my way again.
In another case, a person had promised to help me edit a document. And as the days whent by, I was beginning to wonder if she'd ever do it.
Finally, I asked her. And she admitted that she'd would have to postpone the work and do it when she had some uninterrupted time.
Since I was in no hurry, I agreed to postpone the completion date.
But if I didn't have this conversation, I'd probably be really upset with her by this time since she may not have volunteered this information (and I would be left waiting and wondering).
My point is this:
When someone agrees to do something, when they really want to say “no", they're usually relieved and grateful if you offer them a way out. And it saves you the frustration and irritation as well.
Ideally though, you want to verify someone's ability to follow through on whatever they agree to do, upfront.
That way, you both avoid getting into an awkward position later.
For more on this topic, take a look at my website; details below.
(c) Copyright 2006, Srirupa Dasgupta
Sri Dasgupta helps business professionals get better results from their business networking efforts through focused and relevant conversations. She is the author of the Effortless Networking , and writes regular articles offering business networking tips and related resources.