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ACTIONS Speak Louder Than Words
By Frank Sonnenberg
The car with a religious bumper sticker just cut me off. The parent makes the rules and then routinely breaks them. The leader just asked everyone to scale back and then spends like there’s no tomorrow. The politician says, “Trust me,” but we quickly learn that his promises are empty. The truth is, talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.
Why do people say one thing and do another? Why do they make promises one second only to break them minutes later? Why do people say they care when it’s so obvious they couldn’t care less?
Can’t they see the potential damage to their credibility? Why would they torpedo a relationship that’s taken them a lifetime to build? Don’t they realize they’re undermining their chances for success? The next time they say something, people may doubt what they say or second-guess their intentions –– simply because they’re no longer trusted. No one’s going to stand up and shout, “You just lost my trust and respect!” but the silence will be deafening
Some people may say it’s not a big deal; everyone does it; no one’s watching anyway; people don’t really care. Well, I’m here to tell you they’re sadly mistaken!
Let’s face it, you send a message with what you say AND what you do. If words aren’t supported with consistent actions, they will ring hollow. Someone once said, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold –– but so does a hard-boiled egg.”
Here are some examples of folks who live by the philosophy, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”
All Talk, No Action
The emperor is all talk, no action. Like the emperor’s new clothes, everything is centered on the show rather than substance. He talks a good game, but don’t expect any action or follow-up from this empty suit.
The politician will say anything to win your vote of confidence; this person is great with words but don’t ask for accountability. Once this opportunist gets what she wants, she’s nowhere to be found.
The hypocrites are so full of @#%^*?! that even they don’t believe what they are saying. Forget action on their part. They have a hard enough time keeping their own stories straight.
The drifters have no backbone. They make statements one minute and change their positions the next. If it seems that these folks are confused or evasive, it’s because they are.
The professor speaks eloquently about theory, but that’s where it ends. Action? That thought never crossed her mind. Friedrich Engels had it right when he said, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”
The zombie is so oblivious to reality he doesn’t even realize that his words are out of step with his actions. It only takes someone else to shine a bright light on this fellow to expose his insincerity.
Actions Matter: Do As I Do, Not As I Say
Whether you’re a leader motivating the “troops,” a role model influencing your “fans,” or a parent showing that you care, it’s critical to send straightforward messages. If your words aren’t consistent with your actions, you’re not only confusing the listener, you may also be causing irreparable damage to your own credibility.
Your reputation reflects the words AND actions that you send during the life of a relationship. In the early stages of a relationship, we extend ourselves in small ways and observe responses to our actions. Then we take appropriate action, engaging further or withdrawing a bit each time, until a level of trust is formed. Once we get to know someone, we look for regular and consistent patterns of behavior because the more predictable people are, the more comfort we have with them.
We ask ourselves: “Do they feel strongly about their beliefs one day and abandon them the next?” “Do they expect others to live by one set of rules while they live by another?” “Do they make promises only to break them?”
When you “walk the talk,” your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s trust and faith in you. And it also emphasizes what you stand for.
The bottom line is simply this: Trust is not guaranteed, and it can’t be won overnight. Trust must be carefully developed, vigorously nurtured, and constantly reinforced. And, although trust may take a long time to develop, it can be lost through a single action –– once lost, it can be very difficult to re-establish.
So, any time you make a claim, no matter how small, and display inconsistent behavior, you shatter the comfort zone –– and weaken your bond of trust with others. As a result, anything thought to be predictable in the future may be treated as suspect. The fact is, everything you do in life sends a message. So, make sure to practice what you preach. As Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.”