Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say!

SayWhatYouMeanCliché? You bet!  Nevertheless an expectation in the corporate world. Also perhaps a forgotten or even the most ignored mantra.

Organisations, business houses, families all invariably talk about their values. Some choose to articulate them for the world to see, some others just practice them without ever codifying them yet living them.  At the end of the day it’s the people who are the bearers of the legacy.

I was in conversation with the COO of an organisation the other day and something he said stuck with me.  He said great organisations invariably stand on the values that the individuals who run them stood for. Organisations are a sum total of our values.

We are all of course aware of the corollary that values drive behaviour and behaviour drives results.

The question that arises is why then do people fail when it comes to some of the simpler and timeless values.

Let us take a simple example of the stated word. Our responses to people, queries and situations. Often, we respond to people with commitments and assurances. Some with timeframes, some open ended.

If one were to introspect on how many times we actually lived up to them, we would find that we backed them up with action less than one in five times! To top that we keep making fresh commitments and giving assurances from meeting to meeting and from day to day without worrying about the backlog!! An article I read said that TRUST, more importantly lack of it, was the number one management trap

So, how does trust come about?  Does it miraculously appear or get destroyed basis that one time when somebody’s neck is on the chopping block and you swoop in to rescue them? Or does it get built by somebody knowing, believing that you’ll never let them end up on the chopping block? While the first is a melodramatic choice apt for thrillers, the preference would be for the later more sedate approach.

Dilbert Trust Exercise

Important to note that the one word that invariably accompanies trust is build.  Trust gets built wherever a relationships exists over a period of time.  Action by action the bricks get laid with each interaction cementing them and holding them together.

Trust needs to be built authentically, not on occasion but every single time.  It means getting back to people like you said you would. Simply put, if anyone has to trust you with what is expected from you.  The first basis of judgement is going to be how well you back up your own utterances. It’s true for all of us and for every context.

It can be said again that trust works like a bank account.  Every deed of our either goes to our credit or gets debited from our account.  Needless to say our mouths should be writing cheques that we can’t cash. Bad cheques will definitely affect our credit worthiness i.e. credibility.

So the next time we are speaking to a customer, a colleague, a friend or a dear one. Let us be mindful of what we say.  We better be calling or writing or delivering whatever we said and within the timeframe that we set for it.

I am starting with the man in the mirror! You??


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