We’ve all heard it time and time again; maybe you’ve caught ourselves saying it too.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
First things first, there is absolutely truth in this statement…at least partial truth. I’ll share with you why in particular, today’s personal situation has sparked an internal discussion and has led me to the questioning of why the majority of us look for proof to confirm our beliefs and why it is so difficult to trust in what we know.
Actions Speak …
But on the other hand, I wouldn’t necessarily say they are louder than words, at least not in all situations. I am in no way speaking about situations in which harm is caused to another such as with abuse.
Alright, so let me explain.
If I don’t know someone well, I would generally base my opinion of their character on their actions however, if I have developed an honest relatinship in which both sides have shown considerable investment in, whether it be a friendship, romantic relationship, or workplace partnership, I would typically have faith in them enough to trust in what that person says, and one action wouldn’t completely change that. This is what we think but yet, when the situation arises where someone we think we know acts out of character, we don’t react this way. We for some reason turn on the defensive and begin to question everything we know about this person almost because our disbelief of their actions makes us ask ourselves if we really knew them at all. It’s a vicious little cycle and one that can be solved by more communication and less assumptions to start.
Here’s two problems I see when thinking about this topic, the first is linked with our human nature, ingrained behaviours or whatever you want to interpret it as, and the second is a problem I see within myself.
#1 When a person’s actions go against what we have known for a great deal of time, it makes us question everything we thought we knew about that person’s character even though deep down we know we can trust and have faith in them. We look for reassurance from the other person, in these situations, to help ‘verify’ to ourselves that everything we know and trust about them is in fact true. It’s human nature, and the desire for reassurance or some display of proof to confirm what we know seems to be ingrained in us. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does lead to complications let’s just say that. This is a whole other topic for another day and something I’d love to dive into more.
#2 I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a positive or negative way to be, but when I do form a meaningful connection with someone and they have earned my trust, I always approach an out of character action with compassion and understanding. Now, then again, two out of character actions within the same, make me question, but at least initially I do hold trust and faith in those closest to me. Again, fuck me over a second time and I’m not so understanding.
Trust is a funny thing
When we feel that it has been betrayed, by a display of an out of character action we almost go back to our innate animal instincts and act on impulse; making decisions out of survival and our own self interest.
So, now that I’ve finished with my philosophical ramble here’s my personal ramble on what sparked this whole internal conversation…
Today I was called out for displaying a lack of interest in my job after I had not responded fully to a message from my boss in regards to what I believed was a non critical situation. I have worked with them for 9 months, consistently displayed my solid work ethic, shown my enthusiasm and commitment and thought we had built a good level of trust. With one small action, that was all questioned which got me thinking, does no one trust in what they know anymore or do we ALL require proof of action to verify what is the actual truth.
I won’t get into it further but simply put, due to the current stressors in my life, I had my head down and was plucking away at all the things on my list of priorities but because I didn’t have my work at #1, and was more concerned about what I believed was a bigger situation (Trying to organize legalities so I could continue living the life I have here in Spain) my boss assumed I was no longer motivated, nor had interest to continue working with them.
Speaking back to the survival instincts in our nature, I believe my boss was acting out of impulse and failed to acknowledge the consistent actions I had displayed over the last 9 months. On the other hand, I was also acting in my best interest, and letting my survival instincts take hold. These instincts allowed me to work away at high priority tasks, prioritizing my critical situations first and leaving those of my work down the list.
This whole misunderstanding in my job about my work ethic has since been resolved thanks to an openness and honesty along with a joint desire for understand, empathy, and continued communication. A resolution has been made and the page is turned but oh boy did this small situation turn into something extremely big and in the end sparked a discusssion in my mind as to why as humans we are always looking for proof rather than trusting in what we know. While many people with go on continuing to use the phrase Actions Speak Louder Than Words, I have chosen to rephrase it like this, Consistency In Your Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words.
Now it’s time to hear from you!
Have you ever had someone question your work ethic or passion for your job due to one out of character action? How did it make you feel? What was the resolution to the situation?