Actions vs. Words: Are You Authentic?

Just as your non-verbals should match your words when you are presenting, your words should match your actions and vice versa. Before the words come out of your mouth, make sure they really represent who you are and what you want to say.

There is no point in presenting your viewpoint to the audience and then acting a different way when you leave the stage or the front of the room. The audience will sense that you are insincere and when they observe your behavior, you will lose credibility.

Here are five examples that I've observed or that my clients have shared with me of the disconcerting disconnect between words and actions:

• The speaker who announces from the stage, "I'd love to meet you when you buy my book after the session," and then doesn't even make eye contact or smile when you do buy the book from him.

• The manager who claims, "I want this to be an interactive dialogue," then proceeds to talk nonstop for an hour, with no time or space for questions (capped off with only rhetorical questions that she proceeds to answer herself).

• The leader who declares at the year-end company-wide meeting, "Our employees are our most important resource," and then doesn't bother to ever meet or talk with employees other than the Board of Directors and Senior Vice Presidents (in contrast to a CEO I knew who worked out in the company gym alongside his employees and often ate in the cafeteria rather than the executive dining room).

• The presenter who answers, "I don't know but I'll check on it and get back to you," and then never does.

• The presenter who says, "Your time is important and valuable," but then exceeds the time limit for his presentation, with no clear reason or apology (this example is also found in the customer service world, where the electronic system announces "Your call is very important to us, we will be with you shortly," every 3 minutes while you wait on hold for 30 minutes).

Whether it's by accident, ignorance or lack of concern, when your actions don't match your words, you undercut your credibility, weaken your message and sour your relationship with the audience.

Gilda Bonanno's blog