In our personal and professional lives, we are always trying to convince other people of something. It could be that you are trying to convince an interview panel that you are the perfect fit for the role, or thirty disinterested students that today’s class will benefit them. Perhaps, as discussed in a recent post, you need to convince someone that there could be a mutual benefit if they were to help you in your current endeavour.
How do we convince people to believe in us, support us or allow us to lead them? A lot of people rely on just words. The prevailing belief is that, if you want to convince anybody of anything, you just need to know what to say. The reality, though, is very different. Words alone do not work because we have learned to tune them out. Technology has shortened our attention spans, so if somebody talks for too long we lose interest. There is also a growing awareness of the ways in which we are being bombarded with marketing and sales messages on a daily basis. This leads to some people regarding sales and marketing professionals as manipulative and deceptive, so anything that sounds too polished or too much like sales-speak is likely to be ignored. So, how do we get people to buy into our vision if words alone are not enough?
Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This brings me back to the title. You need to think very carefully about the messages which you are sending out. People do not only listen to what you are saying, but they also take into account your behaviour, appearance, accomplishments and even relationships. Are you qualified to teach the subject matter? Have you experienced enough of something to be able to offer advice on it? Do people see the potential in you, which could be realised with their help?
There needs to be congruency between what you say and do. That is what convinces people of your authenticity, and that they can trust you. If there is an intentional discrepancy, and you are a different person at home and in the office, then you need to take a step back and take a long hard look at yourself. Are you happy leading 2 separate lives? How is that leading you to behave towards others? Is it opening doors for you, or are they being slammed in your face? If you are anything but happy as you are, then perhaps it’s time to consider a job change or a relationship in which you can’t be yourself. When your actions and words are in harmony with each other, this brings peace of mind and helps you to develop more meaningful personal and professional relationships with people who feel that you are trustworthy.
Sometimes, there is a discrepancy between our words and behaviours which are unintended. Take, for example, a teacher who is also an introvert. These are polar opposites. A teacher needs to exude confidence, because students will allow a confident teacher to guide them in acquiring knowledge. Yet, an introvert is often rather quiet and can lack confidence. So, putting an introvert in a room with 30 teenage boys can be a recipe for disaster as they will sense the lack of confidence and spend more time pushing boundaries than learning French.
This brings me back to a recent post on seeking help when you need it. families and friends are a great place to start, but you do need to be careful. They will often sugar coat the truth, and not highlight all of the ways in which your behaviour and words do not match. They do this because they are trying to protect you and not destroy your confidence, but by telling you what you want to hear they are unintentionally doing you a disservice.
This is where professional help comes in. Consider talking to a psychologist. I did and it was amazing. We unearthed so many ways in which I was subconsciously sabotaging my progress, and once they were brought into the open, I was able to work on them and overcome them. I was also unknowingly causing a huge amount of damage to my relationship with my fiancée, because personal relationships can be hit particularly hard if your words and actions do not support each other. It may be that an underlying issue is causing a difference between the messages you want to send out and those that you are actually sending out. Seek help and put the work in to rectify this. It’s not easy, because you will need to seriously question yourself to determine who you really are, what you want from life, what drives you and how you want to perceived by others.
A psychologist is a good place to start, because they are impartial. It could be that you would be better served by a body language expert, a speech therapist or a professional coach whom they could recommend. Having spoken to a psychologist first, though, they will be able to refer you to the right person.
While it is necessary to seek help at times from others on your journey through life, you will only get it if they feel that you can be trusted and won’t waste their time. To do that, you need to make sure that your actions reflect your true beliefs and values. Ironically, you may find that you need help in making sure that your words and actions support each other. If, however, you are serious about becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, you won’t hesitate to seek the support that will help you to become the person you need to be in order to achieve your goals.