When we speak to one another, we do so intending to convey information, just not always the information we intend.
That’s right, sometimes the message we send isn’t about the words we say. We all know about how a large percentage of communication is contained in non-verbal signals. That’s what makes phone calls so much harder than in-person conversation. What can seem effortless in person feels awkward on the phone.
And email is worse. It is so easy to misconstrue a friend or colleague in text: email, texting, IMs. Not only is there no body language, but there also aren’t even voice cues. We can’t tell if they are being sarcastic or sincere.
When we communicate, we miscommunicate.
Actions speak louder
Another way we communicate is through our actions. A colleague can say the words that they agree with your project, but their actions may indicate opposition, confusion or ambivalence. If you were asked about how they really feel, you would likely answer in accordance with their actions, not with their words.
The supremacy of action over words permeates any organization.
Think about your worst job experiences. Did HR or management say the right words, but behave in a way that undermined the supposed meaning or intent?
And your best work experiences? When your boss said they were trying to help you succeed and their actions demonstrated that they were trying to help you succeed. Bliss.