OVER PROMISING AND UNDER DELIVERING
Dee Chadwick
27 Sep 2020
How many of us feel that this summarises us? I have known so many who leap at the chance to offer to do something but then either don’t make any attempt to follow through on their words, or simply make a token effort.

OVER PROMISING AND UNDER DELIVERING

I saw my title words in a description within an article by Andrew Woodcock in The Independent. The subject matter was political leadership in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. I thought that it hit the spot in this context, more so than my own description of the situation as being ‘airy fairy, arty farty’! But it is equally appropriate in many other circumstances. Continuing with the political theme, how about the over promising that Donald Trump has carried out – also with reference to the pandemic – ‘it will just go away’, ‘with the warm weather it will go away’ etc.  The trouble is that with his very open ended promise of it disappearing, he will, hopefully, be right. At some point in the future, it WILL go away, or at least be brought under control after a lot of effort, a lot of research, a lot of caring by so many people, and sadly, a lot of deaths. I have a feeling, or I could probably put money on it, that his response will be ‘I told you it would go away’ – ignoring all of those efforts made by so many others; ignoring the very many lives taken.... and certainly ignoring the under delivering by way of his response.   

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?

https://deechadwick.co.uk/blog/promises-promises As I mentioned in a blog at the beginning of the year, I was always told as a child never to make a promise unless I had every intention of keeping it. Of course there are always unexpected happenings that will give a genuine reason for the said promise not being kept. When it comes to over promising, collinsdictionary.com https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/overpromise   tells us that it simply means ‘to promise more than can be delivered.’ I believe that over promising can be a habit which has morphed into a default setting; it can be deceit knowingly used in order to defraud or cheat someone; it can be a tool used in order to impress, maybe in a personal relationship. It is something that we have all come across. Maybe at first we were taken in, but with experience, a greater understanding of how people may operate, and probably an increasing self-confidence we cease to be always taken in, though chances are that some over promising will still get through and register with us – could this be because we want it to?

OVERPROMISING IN SALES

Sometimes we can be willing ‘victims’ of over promising. Maybe that car that you could barely afford to buy became yours as you wanted to hear the over-effusive words of the sales person, you wanted to be persuaded by the over promising around performance? Set aside was the knowledge of the amount of money you were pouring down the drain simply by driving said car from the sales forecourt to gleamingly sit on your drive.

Sadly, sales reps do not always have a good reputation if the choice is between simply sealing a deal and over promising on said deal.  This doesn’t only apply to car sales people – with apologies to anyone reading this who sells without over promising! I have included a link to an article by Howard Tullman on how to avoid the perils of over promising – from the standpoint of those making such promises.

He says that for customer understanding and satisfaction, it is better to ‘under promise and then over deliver’. Oh how I agree with him on this, as I feel that listening to over promising can lead to us have feelings of frustration – both with the sales person and the ‘product’. There can also be feelings of being let down – if the product doesn’t match the hype or if you feel that you aren’t able to get as much out of the product as you were made to believe. Maybe the performance of that car – were the figures quoted for a driver very different to you? Maybe Lewis Hamilton, or maybe a staid older driver who persuades the car through the gears, doesn’t break over-zealously and seems to have got a much better MPG than you achieve.

I guess this disappointment could apply to many of us when considering modern technology and its ability to do so much for so many, seemingly apart from ourselves. I hold my hand up to including myself in this bracket. There are so many things that I am sure I would benefit from using my lap top for. But I haven’t enough spare time to spend ‘playing around with it’ in an effort to achieve what those much younger than I am instinctively seem to pick up in a matter of minutes. I console myself with the fact that I don’t do too badly for an old biddy and I am sure that I can actually do lots of things that said youngsters can’t. Though I guess that they probably wouldn’t be overly impressed by my list of ‘things I can do’!

OTHERS WHO OVER PROMISE

In order to prevent this happening, it can come down to checking the small print, sadly much of which may only be given orally.  So, at the end of a job it can come down to he/she said ... or not! Is this an example of an over promise used as a deceit? I have certainly been left with a mountain of rubble on my drive, having been told that builders would clear up after themselves. Maybe their idea of clearing up and mine are very different. I now always double check and get such details in writing as on that other occasion, I had to pick up the tab for hiring a skip then transfer the rubble mountain from my drive to said skip!

OVER PROMISING & UNDER DELIVERY IN THERAPY

I make every effort not to make claims which I cannot back up with fact, or to employ over promising in order to persuade a client to attend for therapy. During therapy, if I don’t know the answer to a question, I say so, with a promise to get back to them with a response at their next session, or before I feel this to be necessary. For me, this is essential if my client is to trust me and develop a positive therapeutic relationship with me. This works both ways. In hypnobirthing, I explain the benefits and advantages but never promise a pain free birth. I look to my clients to work at their part of our agreement and practise the strategies and the relaxation as I ask them to. Those who do this consistently reap the benefits of the course so much more than those who don’t.

When clients phone to find out about hypnotherapy, again, I don’t over promise, rather explain that there may be reasons why they keep on drinking, don’t lose weight, don’t stop smoking. Reasons which we can look into and hopefully address. It’s always possible that this isn’t something that they mentioned at our initial in-take session. Probably because they felt that it bore no relevance to their therapy.

One thing that, especially male clients ask is - will you make me eat a raw onion or waddle around clucking like a chicken. Thanks so much to the stage hypnotists who DO encourage such things! My response is simply – ‘Only if you feel that it is therapeutically necessary’. Fortunately, I have so far not been called upon to do a quick nip to the kitchen to grab an onion.

HOW CAN WE CHECK FOR OVER PROMISING?

Firstly, remember, that if it seems too good to be true, then chances are that it is. So steer clear, let the words flow on by – or if you feel it is appropriate, challenge what has been said. I had to add that final option as it is something that I would SO love to do when pontificating politicians have over promises flowing freely. I do have my version of this – I sit and throw my questions at the television, at my computer. At least it gets things off my chest, though I am not sure how it affects my blood pressure.

BETTER TO UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER

I guess we always remember those who have done a bad job for us – and those who have done a good one, especially if they seem to have gone above and beyond in meeting our need. I had one lot of workmen in my home many years ago. They were working on my kitchen and on the last day they arrived to be let in by a very bleary –eyed me, still in my dressing gown. I was ill and my sons’ breakfast dishes were still on the table and a pan was in soak from the previous evening when I had taken to my bed. I asked them to just lock the door when they left. When I came down, they had tidied their work areas thoroughly, but also included washing the pan and breakfast dishes. As they had used the last of the milk for their brews, they had even nipped to the shop so that I could have a drink when I got up, all topped off with a note saying that they hoped I felt better. Now, that’s what I call over delivering.... and it served them well as they were called upon to do several other jobs. Fortunately, they didn’t need to do any more washing up.

Maybe some of the politicians who incur my wrath, and I assume that of many others, could take a leaf out of the book that these guys worked by.

I believe that under promising and over delivering is a good way to behave in our day to day life. A way to behave with others, but also with ourselves. I can over promise a full day of R&R, probably because it is what I want to hear, but then let myself down by picking up the lap top or getting out the cleaning things part way through. Then I can actually feel guilty for not doing the nothing promised. So much better to say – go on, have a morning doing whatever floats your boat. Bliss. Then let myself say – sod it, this is going down well and just letting that boat carry on floating for the rest of the day.

Strangely enough, I seem able to do this without any accompanying feeling of guilt. Can’t be bad, body and mind rested and ready for another day.

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