It is imperative that we keep our word, no matter what.
When we keep our word, people learn that they can trust us. When we do not keep our word, people quickly learn that we cannot be trusted. It can take years to correct that reputation.
We must, of course, keep our promises. The surest way to do this is to not make promises unless we are sure we can keep them. A small promise fulfilled is much more valuable than a large promise left uncompleted. As we keep our promises, people learn that they can trust us.
We must also follow through on our threats. The surest way to do this is to never make a threat unless we are willing and able to carry it out. As soon as we make a threat and then do not carry it out, people learn that they do not need to respect us.
Keeping your word applies to both our professional and personal relationships. Stop and think what your employer, employees, customers, and suppliers will think of you if you make promises and do not keep them. It does not take much imagination to see how damaging this will be to you and your success.
The same applies to threats. If you threaten to dismiss an employee, you have to be willing to do so or you send a message to all your employees that they do not need to listen to you. The same applies to suppliers. If you threaten to drop a supplier if they do not meet certain criteria, you have to move to another supplier if they do not meet the criteria.
Not keeping your word can be just as damaging in personal relationships. What will your spouse/partner, children, relatives, friends, and neighbors think of you if you do not keep your word? Soon you will have taught them that they cannot trust you, that they cannot count on you.
I think the most damage comes when parents do not keep their word with their children. If children cannot trust their parents to keep their promises, who can they trust? Also, if parents do not follow through on their threats, children learn very quickly that there are not any negative consequences to their negative actions. This will not help the child succeed in life.
Before you make a promise, or a threat, determine how you are going to complete it. If you cannot, then do not make it.