I refuse to promise anything to anyone.

Time and again you see children – and adults – either asking somebody else to promise, or to offer a promise even without being asked. I can’t help but wonder why anybody would do that. What does it say about the relationship between ‘promiser’ and ‘promisee’?

Key message

I say what I think, and I do as I say. Who needs promises?

If you ask someone to promise something, you clearly don’t think this person’s simple statement to do as you wish is sufficient. In other words: you don’t trust this person if she does not promise.

My question is: what makes you think you can trust this promise? The faith in a person’s promise necessarily builds on the trust you have in said person. Hence, if there is no trust to begin with, the promise is just as unreliable as the simple statement.

If, on the other hand, you are the one (having) to give a promise, you are clearly and immediately in a defensive position. Either the other person does not trust you, or you feel that your standing is so bad that you must promise to be believed.

Hence I don’t make promises.

If I think I can and will do something, I say so. If not, I don’t. Promising would in no way and to no degree increase my commitment to do as I say.

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