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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why actions always speak so much more loudly than words

It may be ironic that a piece of writing attempts to convey this message but it is an unbelievably powerful thing to remember across a number of life domains. It is so easy to use words to obscure less than ideal behavioural patterns - to claim something is much different than it really is or was, to make things sound so much nicer, to provide an excuse for bad behaviour, to distract from the real issue at hand. Words can be altered, misinterpreted, reinterpreted, have no meaning, lead no where, which can ultimately leave recipients unfulfilled, disappointed and even violated when ones words do not match their behaviours.

Behaviours on the other hand tell us much more about the people we choose to spend our time with. Behaviours show us if the person really is who their words claim they are, if someone really means what they say and if they can be counted and relied upon. Behaviours are far less likely to be misinterpreted, and are far easier to remember. A person’s behaviour is there for all to see, and remembered for much time afterwards, unlike words which are quickly forgotten.

We build respect, trust and intimacy with those who behave well towards us. Good behaviour is demonstrated when others are there for us in our desperate times of need, when people do what they say they are going to do, when they treat us with the respect that we deserve. On the other hand, bad behaviours can leave a deep stain on our soul and are far more difficult to forget. A single instance of bad behaviour can be all that is required to irreparably damage a previously untarnished relationship and ruin it forever. Such a situation is exacerbated when bad behaviour is refused to be owned by the inflicter and such avoidance often leaves the inflicted unsure as to what has occurred. Luckily, the bad behaviour, unlike words will always remain to confirm that the issue is not our response to it but remains with their bad behaviour.

Such knowledge is a good reminder to all of us to make sure our behaviours match the words we impart on the world – that we do what we say we are going to go, that we treat people the way we would claim to, that our relationships reflect the words we use to speak about them. Perhaps the most useful knowledge of all, especially in the case of someone behaving in a way that has deeply disappointed you is that “the single best predictor of a person’s future behaviours is their past behaviour” – if someone has behaved badly, once, twice, repeatedly, it is highly likely they will do it again. This, you know and do have the power to act on if the signs present.