After a while, we develop a sort of listening for others based upon our perceptions about them and based upon who we “know” them to be. Part of this knowing is our past-based knowledge of what a person does as compared to what he says that he will do. For instance, I know that when a certain friend tells me he will be here at 7pm, I can virtually depend upon him to arrive by 7:15pm! If he’s going to be 30 minutes late or more, he will usually call to let me know. I have other friends on whom I can rely that they will be punctual to the time they have given me, or they will communicate to me that they will be late as soon as they know that to be the case.
In the listening that I have created of my always-15-minutes-late friend, there is a whole world in which he occurs for me. For meals that require precision timing, I plan them for after the time in which I know that he will arrive – not when he said he would arrive. For events that begin at a specific time, I arrange to meet him somewhere at least 30 minutes earlier so that we’ll be on time and not miss the beginning of the show.
Knowing how we develop a listening for those around us then, we can begin to see that they also develop a listening for us. They begin to know us either as our word, or as we are compared to our word. For me then, managing my word becomes a matter of integrity. It’s important to me to manage my word and be accountable to it as if everything I say is an actual promise. If those around me relate to me as my word, then in partnership with them, I can create whatever it is that I need in my life. And, if those around me listen to me as my word, then when I am truly in need of help, I can count on getting the exact aide that I need.
When I do not manage my word, my life doesn’t work nearly as well. My relationship to time suddenly changes. All of a sudden, my days go by very quickly and it seems as if there is not enough time to do what needs to be done. The way that I know myself to be loses velocity because I know that I don’t manage my word with integrity.
Managing your word, or being your word, is truly a matter or integrity. And it is something that will make the most marked difference in how well your life works or doesn’t work. Living a life of integrity means that one always honors his word. Notice I wrote “honors” and not “keeps.” That’s because a person with integrity will do everything in his power to keep his word. But, when he knows he will be unable to do so, in order to preserve the honor of his word, he communicates his inability to keep his word to the person to whom he gave his word. So, a person of integrity will always honor his word even when he cannot keep it.
Managing our words, then, becomes a way of life for those who want their lives to work. We manage what we say because we bind ourselves to those words. We manage what we don’t say so that we aren’t bound to empty promises that will cause our words to lose their weight with others. When what we say is the same as what we do, others listen to us differently and regard us in different light. They begin to know us as people of our word and they align with what we say because they know that what we say defines who we are. And that becomes the framework for living created lives and living lives that we love.