What is it that everyone finds so incredibly difficult about promises and honesty? It isn't hard, folks. Here, I'll give you two steps to follow.
1) If you make a promise, don't break it.
2) Tell the truth.
See? That isn't really that hard! Just follow those two simple steps and maybe people will actually believe you for a while!
I feel like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar.
"Jeff is out of jail again, but just got arrested for holding up customers at an ATM. He wants your legal advice."
"STOP BREAKING THE LAW, ASSHOLE!"
Okay. Annoyed rant section over. Now I'm just going to explain how incredibly simple those suggestions up there are.
Now, let's say you make a promise to someone, and then something comes up and you actually have to do what you said. What do you do? You *keep the promise*. Of course, sometimes it's a little trickier. Sometimes it seems like it might be a bad idea, or it might be painful for them (emotionally or physically). Does this mean you can break the promise? No. It does not. You promised, and that's what you do. Got it?
What about if you're *really really certain* that it's a bad idea. Then can you break the promise?
See, you might be wrong. In fact, if someone asked you to promise to do something - even knowing that it might hurt them - you almost certainly *are* wrong. Honesty isn't a thing you can turn off when it's inconvenient. Either you do it or you don't, it's that simple, and if you don't, don't be surprised when nobody trusts you.
What if it's *really really inconvenient*, or what if you think they don't want you to keep it?
Now, you can ask them. And maybe they'll release you from it. But they're the *only* person who can. And if you promised to multiple people, they *all* have to. And in some cases, *nobody* can, and you're stuck with it. And there isn't any escape.
There's another little tricky bit to promises that a lot of people seem to miss, and that is "don't promise anything you can't deliver." Don't make promises you have no intention of keeping. I'm sure you can see why.
Now, as for honesty, that one is, admittedly, a bit trickier. Sometimes it might truly be better to decieve. But it's rare, because it means they won't be able to trust you anymore, and if they ever find out, it's bad. It's almost always just plain easier to tell the truth. However, there's one special case that I must mention that it seems a lot of people have trouble with.
When you promise to tell the truth.
I'm not even going to bother saying what the appropriate action is here, because either you get it by this time or you don't.
I *would* like to point out that when you really need someone to be honest with you, you can ask them to make that promise. But don't do this lightly, because (1) it shows that you're not sure they'll be honest with you otherwise, and (2) it's a pretty major thing to ask of someone. And note that they can still refuse to answer. "I can't tell you" is quite possibly truthful.
But, geez. I don't see why people have so much trouble with all this.