To a lot of people, commitment is just a word they use or something to talk about, but it’s not something to live out. But people who just talk about it are frustrating and often end up disappointing others. In my world of church life, I see people commit to stuff all the time but then they forget their commitment, avoid it or even renege and just ‘change their mind’ midstream. If that’s you, HERE are a couple of suggestions for changing that bad habit. If you deal with these kinds of people on a regular basis, here are some suggestions on how to deal with them successfully.
Deal with them directly.
When somebody bails out on a commitment, they may not actually know what they did or that it’s wrong. So start by giving them the benefit of the doubt and go to them. Remind them of the commitment they made (if it was verbal, remind them of the conversation; if it was written, show them the paperwork). Then ask them to explain to you what is going on. There might just be a misunderstanding, but if you come after them with guns blazing, you can guarantee it won’t end pretty.
Don’t back down.
People are so used to finding loopholes and getting out of things that it’s easy to default on commitments. When dealing with someone who hasn’t or isn’t following through on their commitments, remind them and then expect them to fulfill them. It’s my opinion that you’re not really doing anyone a favor by letting them off the hook. Remember, when someone commits to someone or something, they are voluntarily removing the option out…they don’t have one anymore, so don’t give them one.
Take the opportunity to teach.
This goes back to helping people “unlearn what they have learned” that I talked about yesterday. Nobody likes to have their feet held to the fire, but the least we can do is explain why it’s important for people to follow through on their commitments. And here’s a couple reasons why….1) it makes us trustworthy because we were truthful in what we said or signed, 2) it honors God, 3) it often requires us to trust someone other than ourselves or our feelings, 4) it can help us put God first, 5) it makes us watch what we say and do in the future. There are a bunch of other reasons I’m sure you can come up with, but follow through on commitment is a character issue and if you say you’re going to do something, do it and do it well.
The last thing you can do (if none of the other three help) is to simply move on. Invest your time and energy into other people. Marginalize and even ignore those who talk a good game but can’t actually play. Your time would be better spent building up people you can depend on than trying to hold on to people you can’t. Unless you’ve made a commitment to them, cut them loose, cut them out and cut them off. Make sure you deal with them directly and explain to them what’s going on, but it’s ok to say goodbye to those who won’t play nice.
I realize this might come off as negative or pessimistic. Oh well. My goal isn’t to be that way, it’s simply to be honest. I’m sure people have different opinions or “complicated” situations where it’s just not as easy or black and white as I make it sound. Maybe. I’m just not interested in complicated things…I want to simplify and streamline my life and yours. That doesn’t mean it will be easy because simple does not always equal easy, but it does mean that your next step in dealing with wishy-washy people should be pretty clear. The question is….will you commit to taking the next step?