Ask Alignor

What is the best way to get people to keep their commitments?

It can be extremely frustrating when people do not keep their commitments. For one thing, you may count on other people to keep their commitments in deciding what commitments you are willing to make. So when others do not keep their commitments, you may feel cheated. What can you do in such situations? First, you should be careful not to react emotionally when you think others have not kept their commitments. Instead, be analytical and strategic in deciding how to handle the situation. This means you should consider your own needs and the needs of others before you embark on a course of action. It is usually a good idea to talk with those who have failed to keep their commitments to find out why they have not kept their commitments. In doing so, you may sometimes receive new information or gain a clearer understanding of what is happening. If, based on what you have learned, you suspect there may be ways to collaborate effectively going forward so that other stakeholders are better able to keep their commitments, you might invite them to brainstorm new options with you. If you are able to gain agreement with other stakeholders on a collaboration plan going forward, be sure all new commitments are documented, and include in the documentation what the consequences will be for any failure to keep commitments. Finally, if you decide you must impose consequences on people who have not kept their commitments, be sure to think through in advance what may happen. Look at what each stakeholder will likely do in such circumstances to satisfy their own interests unilaterally and possibly to harm the interests of others. Then, analyze the likely impact on your needs and the needs of others if conflict were to escalate.