Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say

I ordered a graphics card on eBay for a computer project I’m working on. On Tuesday, USPS tracking said it had arrived already. I went to the mailbox. Nothing was there. I looked around, maybe it was on the ground somewhere. Nope, no package. I waited to see if it would show up later, or the next day. Nope. Then I messaged the seller.

NOTE: I’ve been boycotting Amazon for years now. For those of you who are looking for an alternative, eBay is great! They carry many of the same items and brands, even with free shipping with no minimum order. Plus, many eBay sellers in the US are small businesses.

Later that day I found the package underneath a pile of political flyers and brochures on the coffee table. I drafted another message stating that I found it, but decided not to send it. The next morning I get this response:

This is where my hesitation came in. Do I tell them that I found the package? There was that little greedy voice inside my head that told me not to.

  • “You’ll save some money!”
  • “You’ll be able to complete this project super cheap.”
  • “They’re a big company, they can afford to lose a little money. They won’t even miss it.”
  • “You’ll be sticking it to the man and beating him at his own game. F— capitalism anyway.”

This is where the fight for my own integrity came into play. On one hand I could save a few bucks and feel like I outwitted a system that I despise. On the other hand I had my integrity and the value I assign to the agreements I make.

Taking it further, I considered how it would impact my future if suddenly I start devaluing my promises. What impact would that have on the relationships with my family? Friends? Partners? This purchase on eBay was strictly business, but it’s still an agreement. What if I became that person who only honors my word when it suits me? What would that mean for the people around me? Do I want to be that type of person?

I saw a future where I became unreliable and untrustworthy. I couldn’t be counted on to do what I said I would do or show up when I said I would, unless it suited me and my personal desires. I saw a future where my words only acted to get me out of trouble. The worst part is that everyone else knew that was the only function of anything that came out of my mouth.

Then I sent a reply:

What opened up for me was a future where I could be an example of integrity. I could stand proud as a coach knowing that I hold to my values, and I wouldn’t be a hypocrite when I hold my clients to their agreements as well.

Most importantly, my words will really mean something when it counts most. When someone I love is in a desperate situation and needs reassurance, or when their faith in me and our relationship is wavering, then it will mean something when I say, “I love you.” It will mean something when I promise to do differently. It will mean something when I tell them how much I appreciate them.

This is why it’s so important to be vigilant about even the smallest of agreements. The slow erosion of the value of our promises and agreements starts small. Left unchecked, entire mountainsides of our former selves will slide into the ocean.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

“Talk isn’t cheap, it’s that we cheapen our words.”
Words are not inherently cheap. We make them cheap by either honoring what we say or not.

How do you make your words valuable?

  • Be authentic. Tell the truth. Even when it hurts, even when it’s uncomfortable.Do what you say. Keep your promises and agreements.
    • This includes promises with yourself.
  • Show up on time.
  • If you already promised or agreed and aren’t going to do it, tell the other person ASAP.

Do this not only so that you can be reliable and dependable for the people around you, but more importantly so that you can be reliable and dependable for yourself.


Look into your life. Are there some agreements that you’re dismissing as “small” agreements, and/or justifying not adhering to? Have you changed your mind about an agreement but not communicated it? What future do you see for yourself in valuing or devaluing your word?

Please tell me. I’d love to know!
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