“I’ll call you back in an hour, probably less.” I believed her promise, (though the word promise wasn’t used, it was certainly implied), and expected to hear from her in sixty seconds or less. I tried not to count down the minutes while waiting on an answer, but it was hard. Her response could change my life. I looked at the time — 1:30 p.m.
The magnitude of my situation made me breathe in shallow draws as the seconds slowly ticked by. Tick…tick…tick…tick.
At 2:15 I started watching my phone, anticipating my jumpy response when it rang, signaling the moment I could never turn back. But the minutes passed, until 2:30 came and went. Then 3:30, and 4:30, until finally I knew, there would be no phone call today.
That night, nerves jangled, mild frustration prompting me to flip back and forth on my bed, I reflected on a Bible scripture that had started me on a road to success. The NLT version of Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.”
You see, the night before, I stumbled on a piece of information that made me believe I’d found my biological father. Less than three years before, through a dramatic series of events, my parents and I discovered that my dad didn’t father me. I was forty-six when the news came, not exactly the stage of life where you think something like this might happen. (And yes, I said parents. Even my mom didn’t know, which I’m sure raises lots of questions. If you don’t know my story, I speak on it often, and I’ve blogged on it in the past.)
So when I called the private investigator who was helping me search for my bio father, my emotions were all over. The pieces fit for this one hit I’d found on Ancestry.com. With a lot of new factual data at our fingertips, she assured me that gleaning current contact information would be a breeze. And yet, I didn’t hear from her in the timeline she promised.
But even worse, she didn’t bother to call and tell me there was a delay, or ask me to wait patiently because it was taking longer than expected. Either of these communications would have helped ease my tension. At the writing of this post, I’m still waiting for a response — any response.
This is where you come in. I implore you to pay attention to the words you speak. They may not mean that much to you, but what’s at stake for the person on the receiving end of them? Is someone on pins and needles because your news could change their lives? Do they have a full schedule, but graciously blocked out time to wait on your response? Is there a project, or other people on hold until they hear from you?
Words harness the power to change everything. How you use words can impact your success or failure. I work with organizations and people every day. Whether in a professional or personal capacity, the pattern of promise-breaking or promise-keeping will predict how you fare. After all, what seems like no big deal to you, could leave a listener waiting on a life-changing answer. (I’ll keep you posted on the answers to mine.)
Anita Fresh Faith
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries.
Anita Brooks is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Anita’s favorite past time is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.