Writing Checks, You Cannot Cash

How do you feel when someone writes you a check that bounces? Does it make you trust the person who wrote the check more or less? If you are like most people, when this happens to you, it forces you to look more closely at the person who wrote the bad check.

You may have previously had complete faith in this person and viewed them as a person of integrity. As a result of their action, you are now forced into questioning everything you took for granted about them. You will likely approach any situation that requires your trust with a wary eye toward them.

Building trust can take a long time but disappear in a second based on your actions. I used a bad check as a metaphor for the words we use with others. When you are handing someone a check for $50, they expect to receive $50 when they get around to cashing it. A check is a promissory note.

Similarly, the words you say to people are also taken as promissory notes. If your coach tells you that he’s counting on you to play at least ten minutes a game this season, and once the games start, you never get into the game, that’s like writing a bad check to you. It forces you to lose faith in anything he says after that.

If your boss tells you that big things are coming and you will be rewarded, then months and months go by, and nothing changes. That is like writing a bad check to you. Again, this forces you to cast a wary eye toward your boss from now on.

Once you lose faith in someone, it is much harder to regain it, as the memory of letting them down takes a long time to fade. Coaches often tell players they cannot play them if they cannot trust them. Unfortunately, most coaches and leaders need to recognize that it is a two-way street, and players and workers never give their all for people they cannot trust either.

The best way to avoid losing those under your charge is to treat them respectfully by choosing your words carefully. Many people in power fail to recognize that what they say and how their words are taken are often at odds.

It’s vital to remember that when you are in a position of power, every word you say is supercharged to the people you are leading. Even a “throwaway” comment to you can be heard as a million-dollar check to others that they cash in their head. When this happens, both parties end up losing.

I urge you (as I do for all of my clients) to put as much care into your words and promises as you do into not writing bad checks, if for no other reason than that the costs are so much higher on the former.


You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SuperTaoInc


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