What to say when they make empty promises

When dealing with family members who consistently make empty promises, it can be frustrating and lead to feelings of disappointment and mistrust. However, learning how to navigate these conversations can help minimize conflict and improve relationships. Here are some strategies and example sentences to help you handle conversations effectively:

Acknowledge their intentions

When someone makes an empty promise, it’s essential to acknowledge their intentions, even if you’re skeptical about their ability to follow through. This helps to show that you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and can help to diffuse tension.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for helping out, but I need to discuss the details with you to make sure we’re on the same page.

I understand that you want to take on more responsibilities, but let’s break it down into smaller tasks to ensure it gets done.

Express concerns and clarify expectations

It’s crucial to express your concerns and clarify expectations when dealing with empty promises. This helps to prevent misunderstandings and sets clear boundaries.

I’ve noticed that you haven’t been able to follow through on similar promises in the past. Can you explain how you plan to make it work this time?

What specific steps will you take to ensure that you can fulfill your promise this time around?

I’m worried that if you can’t deliver on your promise, it will affect our entire family’s plans. Can we discuss a backup plan?

Offer alternatives and support

Sometimes, family members make empty promises because they’re not fully thinking through the logistics or don’t have the necessary support. Offering alternatives and support can help them succeed and build trust.

Why don’t we work together to create a schedule that’s realistic for you, so we can ensure it gets done on time?

I understand you want to take on more, but maybe we can divide the tasks among other family members to ensure it gets done efficiently.

If you need help with a specific task, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to lend a hand or provide guidance.

Set clear consequences and boundaries

When dealing with consistent empty promises, it’s essential to set clear consequences and boundaries to maintain a healthy relationship. This helps to prevent feelings of resentment and angry confrontations.

If you’re unable to fulfill your promise, I expect you to communicate with me promptly and openly about the status. Let’s agree on a plan for how we’ll handle it.

I understand that unforeseen circumstances can arise, but if you consistently fail to deliver on your promises, I’ll need to reassess how we work together.

Going forward, I’d like us to agree that if you can’t fulfill a promise, we’ll discuss it honestly and find a solution together.

Practice active listening and empathy

Active listening and empathy can go a long way in resolving conflicts and building trust. Make an effort to understand your family member’s perspective and acknowledge their feelings.

I understand that you feel overwhelmed and stressed about not being able to keep your promises. Can we discuss ways to manage your workload better?

I sense that you’re feeling guilty about not being able to follow through. Let’s work together to find a solution that works for everyone.


Dealing with empty promises from family members can be challenging, but by employing these strategies, you can create a more constructive and honest dialogue. Remember to acknowledge their intentions, express concerns, offer alternatives, set clear boundaries, and practice active listening and empathy. By doing so, you can build stronger relationships and foster a more supportive family environment.

Be kind ❤

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