Listen to what people do

Sometimes short and sweet makes an idea stick. I have been thinking about my actions and the actions of others. So often we are let down because of what others tell us they are going to do, and then they let us down. Maybe they do not follow through with what they told us they would do, (you know when it is just lip service). Or maybe it is the complete opposite, maybe they do not talk often but they show you their true being by what they did (or did not do). A recent blog post from Seth Godin, that was short and sweet really made me think:

“Two ways to listen

You can listen to what people say, sure.

But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.”

What if we started talking less (I am the first to say I need to do this) and watch our actions more? Does what we do matter more than what we say? Does showing someone we love them stick more than saying the words: “I love you”?

Do we really listen to what people do? What someone does shows intent and often leaves a lasting impact where words can sometimes be forgotten. It does not mean that words are completely lost, but what you experience with another is often hard to forget. It is why the phase: “actions speak louder than words” is so common to say, but do we often think about that when we take action? Probably not, but we should.

Listening to what people do is also an act of patience, so is listening to what people say. Listening to what people do just takes more conscious effort. When someone is standing before you there is more of an obligation to focus on them, make eye contact, and give them your time as you listen to them talk. There is no obligation to listen to what people do. That takes another layer of effort and care. You probably listen more to someone’s actions when you feel you have been wronged, but do you listen when they do something good? My hunch is that we all can do better to share our gratitude for others when we listen and see the good they have brought to our life.

Here is to a week of more active listening. Thank you, Seth.

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2 thoughts on “Listen to what people do

  1. Great post. It reminds me of a saying I heard (I think from Oprah) years ago that said “When someone shows you who they are – believe them.” It was constant reminder to not be too quick to forgive or overlook someone’s actions – because in those moments they were revealing not who you (or they) want to become – but who they are right now. And while people can change – it’s best to start with the present and work from there.

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