“Can you have this done by the end of the day?”
A scary question for some, especially if it comes from a manager, boss, or client.
What they’re looking for is a commitment… which is usually the reason that it’s scary.
When someone asks you to commit to something, there are three useful responses.
The first two are obvious: “yes” or ”no.”
“Yes” is easy. If you do believe you can have it done by the end of the day, “yes” is easy because it’s honest and it’s probably what the asker wants to hear.
“No” is a bit tougher. If you don’t believe you can have it done by the end of the day, “no” is honest but it’s probably not what the asker wants to hear. Still though, the asker is looking to see if there’s a commitment that can be made, and your answer makes it clear that there isn’t… at least not right now.
But what if you’re not sure? Is there a third possible answer?
People often resort to “maybe” or “I don’t know,” but neither of those answers are very helpful to the asker, as they leave the asker in the same place as they were before they asked: unsure.
What’s a better response? Commit to commit. It sounds like this: “I’m not sure right now, but I can tell you in an hour.”
Committing to commit gives you the ability to hold your own honest ambiguity while still giving the asker the commitment they’re looking.
Next time someone asks you for a commitment where you can’t yet answer yes or no, try committing to commit. It’s a great way to create accountability.
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