Those of us that are native speakers of English are familiar with the expression “actions speak louder than words.” It’s a popular idiom, generally meaning that doing something is better than talking about something. But there’s another meaning as well.That meaning has to do with what you do speaks more loudly than what you say. One would think that senior executives would know this by now and yet we see examples on a daily basis that many don’t.
Here’s one: I’m the head of a major US automaker and I’m flying to Washington to ask Congress to give me a lot of money (umm- MY money and YOUR money, thank you) to help my company dig itself out of the big financial mess we’re in. Those are the words, anyway. But the action is that I flew down there on a private jet. Doh!
Another – I’m an major insurance company and I actually made a very convincing case to get the government to give me a crapload of money to alleviate my dire financial status. Words. I spend the money, in part, on executive retreats and bonus payments. Actions. Oy.
Think it’s only big, stupid companies? Ever work for someone with “an open door policy” who, when you present yourself at their (generally closed) door asks you to make an appointment to see them? Ever work in a company that is an “equal opportunity employer” and fail to see a person of color or a female in a management job?
People can be fooled by words but generally not by actions. Forrest Gump said, “stupid is as stupid does,” not “…as stupid says” and he was right.