April 3, 2013

Is your behavior consistent with your message?

Does your professional organizer's desk look like this?
It's typical for most of us humans to notice when others mess up, but to have a blind spot about our own flaws or inconsistencies. Of course, some people are overly obsessed with their own flaws, but in general, we're more likely to be blissfully ignorant. It would be nearly impossible to live our lives if we weren't.

I see this blissful ignorance frequently with professionals who teach or coach others on how to do something, but don't do it themselves. A couple of examples:

I know a consultant who used to speak to teachers about presenting information to students in different ways because of different learning styles and personality types, but when she presented, her own information wasn't presented that way. (I speak about this consultant in the past tense, because after working with me, her presentation was much more consistent with her message.)

I know a therapist/author whose topic is communication, yet she never responds to commenters on Facebook or Twitter. (I actually find that poor communication is particularly egregious in communication fields.)

I'm sure we've all seen Web designers' websites that are hard to navigate and not user-friendly, a professional organizer with a messy desk, and the occasional pastor whose actions don't exactly demonstrate "love thy neighbor."

We all do this from time to time, and it doesn't make us bad people or failures at our work. As I said in this post, if you're not "practicing what you preach," it doesn't make you a hypocrite. We're not perfect, and our behavior doesn't always match our ideals.

However, repeated inconsistency between your message and your behavior will eventually start to become noticeable to your audiences and prospects, possibly becoming damaging to your believability and credibility.

It's time to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

** Am I practicing my own methods?

** Am I a role model for the people I hope to teach?

** Am I demonstrating the things I talk about?

If not, why not?

If you believe in the methods or the principles or the concepts and you want to persuade others to follow these principles or make attitude and behavior adjustments, you need to live them, not just talk about them.

In my abovementioned post, I said, "Always keep working to bring your image and message into alignment as much as possible." For this post, I'd like that to read "Always keep working to bring your behavior and message into alignment as much as possible."

It's not necessary to strive for perfection, but it is necessary to strive for consistency, because how others perceive you will greatly affect your ability to gain clients, customers and audiences.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Elizabeth Scala said...

Wonderful post, Lisa! I absolutely agree- if we are to teach people, inspire them, and hope to have them follow what we are sharing with them... we had better live the part. In my line of work, health and wellness, I see it ALL of the time. Doctors at conferences speaking about wellness and walking around with a bag of Burger King; nurses at the hospital teaching patients about taking their medications, sleeping well, and healthy habits while they themselves take absolutely no care of themselves. UGH! It makes me crazy. It is sort of a breath of fresh air to read this doesn't only happen in healthcare.

Now- another point that you bring up- which I absolutely agree with as well is... we are to look at the techniques we are teaching. If we don't believe in them, practice them, and use them in our day-to-day lives... then how can we teach others? I believe that we've got to enjoy our healthy habits in order to keep them up. That can be taken a step further... enjoy and do them to actually teach them to others. As far as my own Reiki practice, the more I do self-treatment daily... the more I am able to speak to and teach other people about it.

Thanks for a great article!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth. That must drive you crazy! I know we're not perfect, and sometimes it's hard to practice what we preach. But we have to decide if we want credibility or not, and I think most of us who are out there trying to change attitudes and behaviors do. :-)

Peter Billingham said...

Thanks Lisa, a very reflective and questioning post. As you say, don't beat yourself up to much, but if you're a plumber and your tap is always dripping, then perhaps something is inconsistent with your message. It you teach on communication and never comment (which most never seem to do, only consume,) then that too is a problem. It reminds me a a leadership training session I teach and coach on using the cognitive psychology tool The Johari Window. There is a blind spot quadrant - this is information we are not aware of, but others are. Seeing what's in that blind spot can be painful at times, but oh so useful! Perhpas, Gandhi said it best,
“It is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us. This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks Lisa - another interesting post!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

That's a great tool, Peter. Thanks for sharing! And a great quote, too. :-)


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