How to impress everyone

Calling someone is just one way of following through. Via Flickr user Gerry Balding.

Calling someone is just one way of following through. Via Flickr user Gerry Balding.

I shouldn’t tell you this.

This is my secret way to show people that I’m reliable and organized. It works, and most of the time, it’s not difficult to do.

The one rule I follow is: Follow through.

Doing what you say you’re going to do is powerful because most people don’t deliver on their promises. Contact people when you say you will. Meet up when you say you’ll meet up. Finish the project by its due date. All of this goes a long way toward showing you’re trustworthy.

As a journalist, I constantly have to rely on other people in order to do my job. I call and email people — often strangers — for interviews, photos, fact checking, and so on. I expect people to follow through with these promises and requests about 15 percent of the time. That means that 85 percent of the time, I assume I will have to pester people as my deadline draws near and they haven’t delivered on what was required of them.

You can say that people don’t want to cooperate with me because I’m a journalist, so I have a higher failure rate when it comes to the reliability of people. Perhaps that’s true. But for every person who is trying to ignore me, there are others who desperately want to get their information to the audience that my magazine targets.

So if 85 percent of people don’t follow through, think how reliable you look if you just do what you say you’ll do. You’ll already ahead of most of the population.

The main reasons people don’t follow through are:

  • They forget about the commitment. You know how to remember something? Keep it in a planner. I don’t care if you choose to use an online service or, like me, you still use a paper schedule book. If you write the commitment down somewhere, you’re less likely to forget it.
  • They never intended to follow through with the commitment. If you never meant to follow through, don’t promise it in the first place. Don’t just make promises to appease people.
  • There’s something good on TV. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the time when people don’t follow through with something, it’s because they choose to do something else: watch TV, go out, sleep. I don’t think I should even have to tell you the remedy for this issue. It’s too obvious.

So now you know the secret to making people think you’re intelligent — just be reliable and follow through.

Will you be one of the 15 percent who impress everyone else? Or will you be part of the masses?


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