blurred-hands-handshake-2058130You may have heard the adage, “a man’s word is his bond.” In simple terms, a bond is an agreement with legal force. So, the saying basically means that if you agree to something verbally, that should be the same as your signing a contract. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world where our words are our bond.

I recently had a professional situation in which I encountered this unfortunate truth. Someone gave me a verbal commitment and then later reneged on that commitment. I knew this individual wasn’t trustworthy, so I didn’t hold out much hope for our oral agreement. But the situation still saddened me.

We, sadly, live in a world in which you cannot trust other people to do what they say they will do. That is because we, as a society, don’t value trustworthiness. Instead, we admire beauty, charisma and financial success. For instance, when is the last time you heard someone say, “I truly admire (insert the name of your favorite public figure) because he or she is so trustworthy”? Probably never.

We don’t vote for people for political office because they are trustworthy. We vote for them because they are charismatic. Or they lead us to believe that their point of view matches our own on a multitude of issues from race to the economy to refugees. But we don’t vote for people because they are honorable and moral.

We’ve gone from being a society in which your “word is your bond,” to being a society in which a deal isn’t done “until the ink has dried.” Being untrustworthy has become the norm, not the exception. Theoretically, I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, if we all agree that our words mean nothing.

Except (and this is a big EXCEPT), do we really want to live in a world in which we can’t trust anything that anyone else says? Of course not. That is exhausting. Frankly, this week, I found the failure of someone to keep their word to be draining.

If our words mean nothing, then society falls apart. In fact, when we see aspects of society falling apart, it is because of this very issue. For instance, when you get married, you promise to “cherish” your spouse. To cherish means to protect and care for someone lovingly. Yet, how many people treat their spouses so poorly that their spouses have no other option than to file for divorce? The failure to keep the promise to cherish your spouse is what leads to the destruction of so many marriages.

How many employees are frustrated with their jobs because their employer promises them a raise or flexible hours, but then doesn’t follow through? If an employee believes that their employer is untrustworthy, that person isn’t going to give 100% to their job. And that doesn’t help our economy.

The bottom line is this: Your word should be your bond. Yes, we all make mistakes. We all, on occasion, make promises that we ultimately can’t keep. But our intention should always be to keep our word. And we should do everything possible to honor what we promise.

That means that we should be keeping our word, even if it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. That means you should keep your promise to cherish your spouse every day, even if you don’t always feel like it. That means you should keep your promise to your employees to give them an agreed upon raise, even if it may cut into your profits. That means your goal should be to be the type of person about whom everyone says, “Well, if she said she would do it, then it will get done.”

This week, consider whether your word is your bond. If you say something, do your words carry the same weight as a written contract? Can people rely on you? Hold yourself to the highest standard. Be a person of extreme excellence and make sure that your word is your bond.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)


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