Asking for Commitments: The Big 8

The Receiver of a Commitment is Also Responsible for its Success

When you ask someone to make a commitment, it’s important to remember that you’re also responsible for the success of that commitment. So, if you’re unhappy with the level which people around you are keeping their commitments to you, then that’s a signal that the opportunity in front of you is for you to improve your skill in the area of receiving commitments. And I assure you, if you get really strong at receiving commitments the people around you will get much better at making smart commitments, commitments that forward what you’re up to, and they’ll get much better at keeping those commitments. So, I’m going to give you The Big 8 focus areas that’ll support you in doing this, and if you take these on from “being for” the people you’re working with, interacting with, around commitments, and from being for the success of what you’re up to together, they’ll make a big difference.

The Big 8

#1 – Establish a Mutual Understanding

Make sure that you establish in your working relationship a mutual understanding of what commitments are. Don’t assume just because somebody’s taken the training in The Collaborative Way® that they have that understanding. You want to establish that mutual understanding in your working relationships so that you each appreciate that if we make a commitment, then we’re saying our relationship to the future that we’re committing to is it will happen, and that we are engaged in and taking the actions necessary to have that future occur. That we have or can acquire the resources and wherewithal to accomplish this commitment, and if at any point in time, our relationship shifts from it will happen to well, I’m hoping i’ll accomplish that commitment or I’m trying to I’m not so sure–that as soon as it shifts from it will happen to anything else–that’s when they reach back to you and get in a conversation so that together we can work out the most effective way to move forward to succeed in this commitment.

#2 – Support Them in Saying No

Number two: Support the other person in saying no when you ask them to make a commitment. So many people struggle in this area, and to assume that they’re able to speak straight and make real commitments is a mistake. Support them in Speaking Straight, support them in speaking up and saying, “I don’t see how I can accomplish what you’re asking me to do. I don’t know how to accomplish what you want me to do.” There are so many other expressions of “no” or that they also get stronger at providing counteroffers or possibly also saying, “Hey, I don’t think what you’re asking will really support and forward what we’re up to,” so that we can have a real conversation together around these commitments. 

#3 – Don’t Accept Every Commitment

Number three: Don’t accept the commitment when your relationship to the future is anything other than it will happen. So, if you don’t have that kind of confidence, then don’t accept the commitment. Don’t just go along and your internal dialogue is, “I don’t know if they’re going to do this.” Then, you’re not Honoring Commitments. You’re not supporting them. So, instead have a real conversation–speak straight, listen generously to each other, and work out a commitment that is both forwarding and also that is real.

#4 – Why Is it Important?

Number four: Make sure you both understand why this commitment is important and how it sforwards what you’re up to. And, I encourage you to keep that alive in your conversation with each other throughout the whole time you’re fulfilling on this commitment.

#5 – Get a “By When”

Number five: Get a “buy when.” Don’t step away from one of these interactions without a buy when.

#6 – Reconfirm Your Understanding

Reconfirm your understanding of the commitment before you leave this interaction. When you’re asking someone to make a commitment–just because you understand it, doesn’t mean that’s the same thing they understand. So, ask them to reconfirm they’re understanding, state their understanding of what’s being committed to, to make sure as you end this initial interaction that you’re both on the same page.

#7 – Check In

Number seven: Check in. Make sure you’ve written down or recorded in some way the commitment that they’ve made and that it’ll show up to you–it’ll trigger you at different times, at appropriate moments, to check in and see what the status is of the commitment. Just don’t forget about the commitment once you’ve asked for it, and if at any time along the way, you start to feel less confident, and you’re not sure your relationship is any longer that this future will actually happen, then absolutely check in at that point in time and find out whether there’s work to be done there, or you just needed to be reassured.

#8 – Acknowledge and Follow Up

Number eight: Acknowledge commitments that are fulfilled and follow-up commitments that are not. And when you follow up, make it a learning experience–there’s something they went amiss here. So, what can you learn from it and what can they learn from it so that the two of you can be far more successful in the future in fulfilling on commitments? That the ones that are made between you actually happen? Remember Rita Mae Brown’s quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.” Now, she might have been a little harsh there, but she’s got a real point. Just don’t keep doing the same thing. Learn from this experience and find out how to improve your interactions. You might discover in that learning you’re asking somebody who doesn’t have the wherewithal to fulfill on this. They maybe need support in some way. Maybe you’re asking the wrong person for this commitment. Just don’t keep doing the same thing. Learn from it–you learn, support them in learning so they’re stronger in the future. 

Be More Effective in Having People Keep the Commitments They Make to You

Alright, so you got The Big 8. You take on getting strong in these Big 8, and I assure you, when people make a commitment to you, they’re going to be far more effective at fulfilling on them. And you’ll also, together, be more effective at collaborating together, to make commitments that actually support what you’re up to together. Alright, go practice!


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