April 3, 2014 smz-blog

What’s in a promise? The Under/Over Debate


Some people say we should under promise and over deliver, because when we make and keep promises, we not only meet and exceed expectations, we show how trustworthy we are. On the opposite end, broken promises are a breach of trust that can “cause us to want to punish and seek revenge on the promise breaker.” Not exactly a fun day at the office. But whether it’s a good idea to consistently under promise by telling coworkers or clients a due date only to deliver it ahead of time, is a matter of contention.

Under promising, and then over delivering sounds like a win-win situation. There isn’t the pressure of a lofty proposal that’s nearly impossible to meet, and it’s relatively easy to go above and beyond. That way we can breathe a little easier knowing that the time restraints aren’t terrible, and we can maintain trust in our working relationships.

The issue arises when that “above and beyond” becomes the standard one is measured with. “You are setting yourself up to fail and your customer to be disappointed,” says Robbie Ann Poole, who thinks the idea of under promising only to over deliver isn’t a recipe for success, at least not in the long run. “A better method might be to deliver on your promises. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and keep the ones you make.”

So, what do you think? Under, over, or neither?

Katie Green, Creative Intern




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