February 18, 2010

Words speak louder than actions

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We've all heard the expression "Actions speak louder than words." Most of the time, we expect people's behavior to reveal their true self, even when their words speak otherwise. For example, imagine a thief who apologizes and says he feels bad about what he did, then steals again.

However, sometimes words speak louder than actions.

For example, there's a guy who loves to help people. He volunteers, he raises money, he constantly promotes his charities... and he never lets you forget it. His actions say he's generous and giving; his words say he's self-important and attention-seeking. Does that make him a bad person? Of course not. But it does make one think twice before getting involved with one of his projects.

More examples:

•  A boss who is generous to employees financially, but belittles their abilities

•  A pastor who nurtures his congregation with love and acceptance, but judges and criticizes those outside of his church

•  A speaker who gives great presentations and works well with organizers, but talks trash about his clients to others

The bottom line here is that, unless your actions and words are consistent, you come across as a hypocrite, as insincere, as a liar. If what you do and what you say are incongruous, you will not be able to gain the trust of your colleagues, your clients, or your audiences.

Are you aware of your incongruities? Do you think your actions will make up for the judging, arrogant, critical, rude, patronizing, self-centered, pretentious or snarky words you say?

Maybe for a while, but not forever.

Pay attention to both your words and your actions. Others do, and others will see right through your performance.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Linda Menesez said...

This is interesting, Lisa. It's a different perspective. I work a lot with clients on the need for congruence between their belief system and their behavior. As you say, when there's a lack of consistency between your behavior and your words, then you're sending mixed messages to others -- and possibly to yourself too. You bring up some good points with your examples. Thanks for bringing up this issue. It's good for all of us to think about how we move through our lives, and what message we're sending to those we come in contact with.


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Linda! Beliefs, behaviors and words all go together.

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