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The Important of Owning Your Word in the Workforce

By Korryn McMinn

People have a habit of changing their minds. If you’re like me, you change your mind often. I leave to go to a restaurant and change my mind five times about where I want to eat while I’m driving – ending up at a completely different place than where I originally set out for. This happens regularly.


Usually, when you change your mind in situations like listed above, no one is really affected. Perhaps my boyfriend becomes annoyed at all the changes, but it doesn’t mean we don’t get to eat. However, changing your mind in regular situations like that is different than going back on something in the workplace.

Most people change their minds, that’s just a part of life. However, when your sudden change of mind affects a group of people who have already been counting on you, that’s a different story. Minor changes aren’t a big deal. You want to write in blue ink instead of black? Go ahead! Major changes are what can cause a bind.

Professionally, it’s important to remember that when you give your word, people trust and count on you. Be a man/woman of your word: (Wo)man of your word: a (wo)man who can be expected to keep or follow through with his promises or intentions; a truthful, trustworthy, or reliable person.

Keeping your word is important. It’s ethical. It’s professional.

Initially, if you think about changing your mind, it’s important to go through all possible scenarios of what might happen on the other end. If you cancel a job offer you’ve already accepted, what does that do the company? If you said you’d do a project and then don’t, what kind of bind does that put your coworkers in? If you’ve already given your word and must go back on it, think about what you could do to help ease the conflict. Can you stay on and help until they find someone else to get started on the project? Can you give ideas you’ve had for the project that they can start working off of? Realize that by going back on your word, you could be putting people in a bind. What can you do to help?

Now, I’m not saying you can’t change your mind, but I’m saying you need to be mindful of the consequences of your actions. The importance of keeping your word in the workforce is vital because it shows you can be counted on professionally. Word can travel fast around different industries, so it's important to keep a good name for yourself. It’s important to show your employer you’re dependable, reliable, and thinking about the “we” instead of “me.”

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