When I was little, my mother taught me a valuable lesson: let your yes be yes and your no be no. If a friend invited me to her birthday party and I accepted the invitation, I was committed. Even if a different girl who I liked more invited me to a different party on the very same day, my mom never let me back down on my first commitment. I hated this as a child, but today I realize the purpose behind the lesson. In a very basic way, she was teaching me to be a woman of my word.

It’s something we’re lacking today (I really never would have learned it if my mother wasn’t so diligent) and it’s something that we all need to learn if we want to have healthy relationships, strong marriages and successful careers. Yes should mean yes, and no should mean no. Period. No excuses, no waffling, no swearing on your future child’s grave. Standing by our word is important because it’s an element of our integrity, which takes years to maintain and one minute to erase.

Integrity is a noun that refers to adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, and honesty. We lose that when we lie, cheat, gossip, and flake out. Integrity requires consistency. Strong character. Discipline. Commitment. Communication.

While our word should be steady, reliable and trustworthy so that others can trust us to follow through on what we say, life happens sometimes and gets in the way. I know we’ve all been there—made a commitment to something and suddenly been unable to follow through. The key here is how we handle it, and we really have two choices:

1. Choose to let our integrity fly out the window, hoping the person or people who are counting on us will understand and forgive us later.

2. Have the courage and wherewithal to say something.

When something gets in the way of our word, the answer is to communicate. We’ve all had flaky situations in our past, but we always have the opportunity to rebuild our reputation. Let’s leave behind the wavering, unreliable ways of our past and choose to be women of our word. Our friends, significant others, co-workers and bosses will thank us greatly.

 

Photo credit: http://awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com/post/29082871810