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The I’m not promising you anything motto

October 19, 2009

I’ll do X for you but I’m not promising you anything.

Now where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah, the insurance guy who tried to explain a strange reimbursement policy to me.

The broker who tried to interest me in some investment product.

The lady who sold me my broadband.

The boss who said he’ll try to get me a desk further away from the toilet.

The friend who promised to be there tonight.

Everyone says it.

Gad, what is wrong with these people?

You know what “I’m not promising you anything” says to me?

It says, “I’ll tell you what I tell you but hey, don’t hold me to it.”

Yup, I’ll do it but don’t trust me that I’ll get it done.

Real confidence inspiring eh? Now why would anyone go and do a thing like that to themselves?

Scene B. You see a billboard ad for a tour to Thailand. Nice beaches! Great nightlife! Hot chicks! And something at the bottom that says, “We don’t promise you anything.” (Btw Thailand IS a nice place, trust me.)

There’s a lesson in there somewhere, and its this. If you find that people are suddenly not taking you seriously, you might wanna check what you’ve been saying to them all these years.

Yes, I know what you’ll say. I have to set expectations. How can I commit to something I have no control over?

Well, how about giving people a simple and far less annoying,

“I’m sorry but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Or, “I can take it this far but what happens next is their call, not mine.”

You know what they say. Its not what you say, its how you say it. Say something enough times and sooner or later it’ll come true. So if we create anticipation and immediately pour cold water over it, sooner or later nobody will come to us for anything.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009 10:55 pm

    Sounds like the Taichi language from the kingdom of “taichi-masters”…

    Its an infectious language if even those with little kung fu can use it.

  2. October 20, 2009 8:29 am

    mmm… newbie consultants luv to say this line. the more experienced one would say the first line, and omit the “don’t hold me to it”. but somehow, even if they don say it, we’ll assume it’s part of his line πŸ˜›

    for me, whenever i hear someone says that, it shows a lack of confidence from the person…. which will cause a lack of trust from my side.

    Yup, I notice its the old dogs who luv this line. Been bitten too many times is my guess.

  3. October 20, 2009 1:04 pm

    Alvin , you contradicting yourself lah 😦

    At first talk about how people should be honest , don’t say “yes” and cannot deliver..
    Now when people become honest and say “i am not promising you anything” you say lack of confidence and you don’t trust them…aiyoyoyo :p LOL

    That’s easy. Honest people should avoid working in jobs that require them to make dodgy promises. πŸ™‚

  4. October 21, 2009 10:47 pm

    yeap, as Damien said, honest people shouldn’t be involved in consulting n sales related jobs. πŸ˜›

    if u reli reli reli wanna b honest, well…jz be honest. if cannot do it, just say it. and never give the wrong expectations upfront. say yes – full stop. or no – full stop. not yes….but i don promise anything. THAT’s contradicting.

    If you’re in sales & marketing, you’re hired to say whatever the customer wants to hear. It can be the truth, it can be stretching the truth. Sometimes the reward system is why people stretch the truth. The guy who bluffs and says he’s got $10 million worth of deals in his pipeline looks rosier to the boss than the honest guy who says he’s only got $1 million, even if in the end, the honest guy brings in that $1 million and the bluffer brings in only $500k plus a boatload of excuses why the other $9.5 million didn’t happen.

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