1st August 2019

Has anyone let you down recently?

Don't you hate it when someone cancels on you at the last minute? Only last week I had a meeting cancelled when I was two hours into my journey and only 30 miles from their door!

Cancellations like this can leave you feeling low, and if you don’t embrace the situation positively, it can do serious damage to the relationship. This broken commitment made me feel like my time wasn’t respected and I don’t think the person involved had fully grasped the impact the last-minute cancellation had on me.

So instead, I sat down with a cold drink and watched What To Say When Someone Breaks a Commitment to You. This video put everything into perspective for me.  Here’s what I took away:

Firstly, the person who has broken their commitment to you has no right to make you upset and cause you problems. You are not to blame for their actions.  Learning to control your emotional reaction will help you.

Secondly, don’t get angry but explain courteously what impact their action had on you. In my case, driving halfway across the country for a meeting that didn’t happen wasted my time and incurred unnecessary costs.

I thought about the time spent preparing for the meeting, the fuel costs, environmental damage and the time away from paying clients. It felt as if there had been a complete lack of consideration and respect for my time. To compound this, when I finally got back to the office after traversing the country, there was no apology or acknowledgement from my contact about what had happened.

I could have let the feeling of frustration fester and bubble away, primed to explode during our next conversation. But I didn't. I took control of the situation.  I sent off a carefully constructed, measured email which highlighted how their last-minute cancellation had impacted me and the business.

I pride myself on being polite and accommodating to every individual I deal with, but does this mean people think they can get away with messing me about? No.

I am not saying you can never break a commitment. Of course, that isn’t realistic. Sometimes it’s necessary. It’s possible my meeting had been cancelled for genuine last-minute reasons - I simply don’t know.  So, what should have happened?  How should I have been informed?  Our WATCH & GO video What to Say When You Need To Break A Commitment illustrates exactly what to do.

The first thing to remember: it is always better not to break a commitment unless you really need to. When someone does this to you, how does it make you feel? Is it all sunshine and kittens? No. it is more like perpetual rain and a fly that just won’t go away. It leaves you frustrated and annoyed. So, try to avoid doing it to other people. If you are going to break a commitment, put yourself in the other person's shoes and carefully consider the implications of cancelling.

Secondly, remember that breaking prior engagements without a proper reason is a form of self-sabotage.  You are positioning yourself in a less than favourable light with your colleagues, clients and suppliers. When was the last time you broke a commitment to someone? Did you do so without thinking it through, or was there a very good reason for it? How did people react? When you break a commitment, you must seriously consider the repercussions. There may be financial and social implications, so never do it lightly. 

Ultimately, if you must break a commitment, show that you are sorry and that you understand the problem that cancelling causes. Try to compensate the person for the broken commitment and say sorry if you want to preserve your relationship. Sometimes breaking a commitment is unavoidable but, if you’re going to do it, make sure you are respectful and always apologise.

I am lucky that my job gives me unlimited access to the full library of WATCH & GO videos. Perhaps, if I hadn’t watched What To Say When Someone Breaks A Commitment To You I might have fired off an email that would come back to haunt me, or I would have grown even more frustrated at the situation, wasting even more time!

Giving your people access to WATCH & GO’s video library gives them the opportunity for meaningful behaviour change through watching and doing. Seeing how to do it better leads to improved outcomes.

The WATCH & GO video What To Say When Someone Breaks A Commitment To You is available for you to view throughout August 2019, as our featured ‘One to Watch’.  Click here to view.

And if you’d like to see What to Say When You Need To Break A Commitment and the rest of our library of excellent titles, please email video@scottbradbury.co.uk to book your no-obligation demo to see over 60 titles, or complete the request form.


Alice Thynne

1st August 2019

Has anyone let you down recently?

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