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Let actions speak louder than words

Have you ever met a salesperson who told you that you should do business with him or her because they are an “honest person?”

I have.

It makes me think they are not honest, and makes me not want to do business with that person. I feel they shouldn’t have to tell me they are honest. I should be able to tell by their actions and the feeling I get from them. Anytime someone verbally stresses to me what type of person they are, I am cautious about the validity of their self-proclamation.

It seems to be more frequent now than ever, at least in my lifetime, that we are trying to justify who we are by telling people who we want them to think we are.

Increasingly frequently, I see people post on social media about their own kind deeds. I hear people tell others about their own work ethic. I receive more often than ever messages about the message-sender’s own positive qualities. Often, unfortunately, the things people are saying don’t match who they really are. It becomes clear once you have an opportunity to observe their actions.

Maybe I am refusing to keep up with changing societal norms, but I don’t like the trend.

It leaves me wondering why that behavior seems to be on the rise. Have we become a society of people who struggle to find value internally and need constant praise and affirmations from others? Have we become incapable of understanding people based on their actions? Have we become a society in which our actions are not who we want to be known as, leading us to tell others how we want them to think of us? And, if that’s true, are we a society with decreasing numbers of people who can still see reality of action versus words?

Instead of telling people you are an honest person, try being honest. All the time. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Don’t tell people one thing if you mean another. Don’t tell a customer that a product or service does something when it likely won’t. Admit when you are mistaken about something. Your honesty should speak for itself.

Instead of telling people your organization is transparent, communicate with transparency and share information. Telling someone you are transparent and then withholding information, altering data, or giving some of the truth instead of the full truth is not transparency. Your transparency should speak for itself.

Instead of telling people you are a kind person, be a kind person and let your actions tell others about your kindness. You don’t need to share with others, especially people you don’t know well, when you do something kind. To me, it then becomes less about being kind and more about receiving attention and external justification. Your acts of kindness and what people who receive or witness your kindness say about you will speak for itself.

Instead of telling people you are a loyal person, be loyal. Dogs sure are loyal to their humans. How do we know, since they cannot tell us? Through their actions. Much like our furry friends, your loyalty will speak for itself.

Instead of telling people you are fair, act fair. Do for one customer what you would do for another. Don’t play favorites. Your fairness will describe you without you having to tell others you are fair.

Should any of your actions contradict your words, then you are not being genuine. You aren’t who you say you are, and that is something that should be addressed.

Those are just a few examples.

What would happen if, instead of telling others who we are, we relied on our actions to tell our story? If we all committed to being authentic, we wouldn’t have to tell people how we want them to see us. They would see us as who we are, consistently.

We wouldn’t have to justify the purpose of our business or organization. Its value would be seen because it would be serving a purpose and filling a need. To me, telling others who we are instead of letting our actions speak for us is fake.

Let’s not be fake. Let’s be real and authentic and genuine and sincere. After all, actions really do speak the truth louder than words.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs biweekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.