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More power to those who keep their commitments

I would urge more integrity from companies. It takes a lot to build faith and reputation, and it takes nothing to spoil it



By Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Published: Mon 18 Apr 2022, 10:57 PM

Commitment is an act, not a word,” said Jean-Paul Sartre. I wish people would understand this without just making commitments.

Let me explain. For a week or so, I have been having trouble with a reputed institution about a written commitment they made. They mailed me saying they would call me within one working day and collect the documents to get the work done. Their silence stretched for many days. I received no call or email.

I wrote about it on Twitter and within 24 hours, I got a call from their social media department about my problem. ‘’Stick to your words and commitments,’’ I told them. “You want 20 days to get back, that’s fine with me, but say so.” The power of social media and keeping up the public image was quite evident. However, the department that sent the mail (in the first place) has yet to get back.

When we were in school and at home, we were taught to keep our promises. In fact, my mom used to say, “Promise less than you can deliver and then deliver more than you promised.’’ You will make the other person happier. But in the rush to be number one and for their image, companies promise you the moon and that too in a day.

I am always telling myself that is too good to be true. But then the lawyer in me prompts me to think if such an established company has written to me saying so, how can they go back on their word? We have been taught about the power of the written word and its sanctity. But I feel promises are just made to sound good these days.

When I complained that I was told it would take only one working day to get the job done, a representative of the company told me,I should understand how busy they are and how can I expect a reply in one day. It totally freaked me out “Did I tell you to write the time required as one day to revert. You could have said 10 days or 40 days.” I have applied for a visa that states it can take up to two weeks for the process to be completed, I am okay waiting. When I tell my client that the agreement will be in his inbox at 8 am tomorrow, I make sure I stick to the plan, even if I don’t sleep the previous night.

I don’t know whether sticking to your commitments is old school now. In the fast-paced world, people and companies just want to lure customers with tempting offers and ridiculously quick timelines. Once you have paid an advance and signed on the dotted line, all the procedures creep in and the timeline stated earlier gets blurred. I would rather be old-school in this matter since it speaks of your integrity.

I remember when I was the legal advisor of a marine company, the contracts were so specific. The ship had to be delivered on a date and even the time of delivery would be specified. From the very next day, the penalty clause would kick in.

Before signing any agreement, we had a document called “conditions precedent”, that stipulated the most basic documents that would need to be seen before the signing of the agreement. All the steps were laid out clearly with strict timelines to be adhered to.

I do realize that the world does not function this specifically. But making promises only to ridicule them the next day is also a blatant lie. A company that can spend thousands and thousands on advertisements, should also spend on true customer service. A happy customer is actually the best advertisement for a company. The glossy magazines and big hoarding on the roads may get business initially, but the truth spreads quickly if you don’t deliver what you promised.

I would urge more integrity from companies. It takes a lot to build faith and reputation, and it takes nothing to spoil it. A negative tweet can also cause a lot of damage. “The road to success is through commitment,” said Will Smith very wisely and I couldn’t agree more.

Do you ever say you’re going to do something and then say “I’ll do it later” which eventually means never getting around to doing it? All of this might seem innocent done once or twice. But little things done create your reputation. On the other hand, honouring your commitments gives the words that come out of your mouth power. They actually mean something.

Whether, you are an individual, company, or country, the Dalai Lama has said it perfectly, “The most important thing is to have a sense of responsibility, commitment, and concern for each of our fellow human beings.”

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is an independent legal consultant based in Dubai


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