The saying "actions speak louder than words" emphasizes the idea that behaviour is often more truthful and revealing than what someone says. In this blog I want to look at this in more detail and share some of my thoughs and knowledge.
Most of us have met someone or have someone in our lives who says one thing but does another. Maybe they are a family member, a friend or a co-worker. They say all the right things and often they say all the things that you want to hear, especially if you are emotionally invested in them. So which one is the truth, is it what they say or what they do, or a mix of both?
There are several reasons why behaviour is considered to be more trustworthy and reliable than words. Lets take a look at some of the reasons and I will share some of my own experiences. In NLP and many other types of therapy it's acknowledged that our behaviours are driven by our beliefs and our values.
Subconscious expression: Behaviour often comes from our subconscious mind and is less filtered or controlled than our words. Our subconscious can reveal our true feelings, intentions, and beliefs, even if we try to hide them with our words.
Consistency: People may say things that they don't genuinely believe or intend to follow through with, but their consistent behavior over time is likely to reveal their true character and values.
Emotions can be challenging to hide or fake in our behaviour, whereas words can be carefully chosen to present a false front. Facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can often give away our true emotions.
Someone may claim good intentions through their words, but their behaviour might reveal a different story. Actions show the actual impact of their decisions and behaviours on others and the world. This one is really important in my opinion. Really look at the impact of their behaviours and the decisions they choose to make. People can say they value certain things, but their actions often demonstrate their true priorities.
How someone behaves under pressure or in challenging situations can reveal their character better than what they profess when everything is going well. The hardest part of the experience and for all of you that have experinced this, is that you want to believe the words. In fact, you may even challenge the words as the behaviour doesn't align with them and more than likely you will be re-assured that the words are all the truth and that deep down you know this to be the case.
When this happens you are more than likely going to accept this, because you want to believe in what the words represent. It also depends on how long you have known the indivdual and how often their words have matched their behaviour. We all need time to see what the baseline is with someone and everyone makes mistakes. But if it happens more than once, then it's likely not a mistake, it's part of their character and you need to accept that the behaviour is the truth.
What do we mean when we speak about someones character? The word character, from the ancient Greek, refers to an engraving or stamping instrument. In other words, character is deeply engraved or stamped within us. The most significant indicator of a persons character is not their words, but their actions over time.
If someone just disappears from your life when there is stress and they don't show any signs of acknowledging the impact on you, then you may want to consider this if you're planning to stand opposite them when they say "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".
Of course, words and behaviour together offer the most comprehensive understanding of an individual. However, when there is a disconnect between what someone says and how they act, it is often wiser to trust their actions as a more reliable indicator of their true intentions, values and beliefs.