Let Your Actions Reflect Your Words, Follow Through or Shut Up!
The older I get it seems the more I appreciate what people DON’T say. I just think people talk too much and say too little. Maybe its just my perspective but young people can ramble on and on and after an hour I realize nothing was really said. Worse than that sometimes they ramble on and say so much that you know they live in la la land (not the movie).
Building a great business or career requires the harmony of both words and deeds. A real pro has way more deeds than words. I have a very close friend who traveled with me a while back. We sat for three hours not saying a word. It was beautiful. Finally when we did talk it was meaningful, directive and clear. Trust is built by actions, not words.
Classical education focuses far too much on words, not actions. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career. Academically educated applicants seem to focus on what they know, seasoned workers focus on what they have accomplished. There is a huge difference. Young people should be taught what the work force is looking for. Employers and employees should be on the same page when it comes to workplace accomplishments. Business and career development is all about action, not words.
One of my favorite stories is about a bank on the west coast of the United States. It was sliding downhill financially as customers were closing their accounts and taking out deposits. The board met and discussed the matter. They found out that customers were leaving because they were treated harshly.
Their response was to initiate a public campaign to change their reputation. They bought thousands of banners and posters covering the walls of the branches. Every employee was issued pins and new names tags with smiling faces. The entire region was blanketed with TV adds expressing how friendly staff was, and how deeply they cared. The problem was the board never told a single employee what was coming, never had a single class explaining the importance of friendly customer service. The words came on cardboard and over the television. When parcels arrived from headquarters, the employees, assuming they were supposed to be hung… hung them.
At first customers came in, saw the posters of smiling faces and smiled to tellers. Being polite, the tellers smiled back. It was contagious, like the flu. It seemed to have an immediate affect on moral of both the employees and customers. Deposits ticked upwards again and it appeared the problem was solved.
However, once customers got used to the dangling posters they only looked at the employees… who showed little to no signs of change. Their service was identical to before the campaign and people returned to their prior opinions. It wasn’t long until moral began to slide and people/deposits again began to leave.
Head office soon saw the numbers slide and, not learning from their mistake began another campaign. This time, however, people weren’t listening. The rush out the door was sped up rather than reversed. Before the board had the opportunity to correct the problem by adequately training employees, they lost too many customers and had to be bought out by a competitor.
People learn who are the talkers and who are the doers. If you don’t learn the art of building a reputation of trust through action or simple follow through your future will be limited in opportunity. If you realize that you probably talk too much and walk too little… change your actions and simply shut up for a while. Try not having the last word in a conversation or not giving your opinion on the next number of conversations you walk into. A simple rule to help along is… don’t offer an opinion unless its asked of you. If its asked, your probably considered a person who knows. If your not asked… its probably best to just shut up.