Actions speak louder than words.

Actions speak louder than words..

by Howard Greenwood, 1st December 2021

As a business coach and mentor, we come across lots of people, and we have to be able to get to the actual problem, not the surface problem that lots of people portray.

Albert Mehrabian’s theory on communication is that only 7% of our communication and how we feel, are attitude comes from the words we speak. Next comes the tone of voice, which accounts for 38% of our communication. That leaves the remaining 55% of the factors that make up our communication to body language. The face leads the way as it is mainly your facial expression that gives away your true feelings.

Hence actions speak louder than words. However, we are now in a very different world. You simply have to look at most recruitment websites to see the well craft mission statements! The values the company states they live by to feed this modern world’s desire for value. Words are becoming extremely important, but Albert is still correct; it is people’s actions when trying to live up to those words and statements that portray if the person is authentic to their values.

Let’s take the word “authenticity”. Over lockdown, this word has become widely used within the recruitment sector to describe a person and how they live their values and display them to others. But like some values, is this word losing its meaning? People now masking their authenticity, expressing actions on the outside, backed up by their words, when feeling something completely different on the inside.

The dictionary meaning of authenticity.


  1. Not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.
  2. Having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.
  3. Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified: a story told in the authentic voice; speech that sounded authentic.
  4. Entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy: an authentic report. 

If this is the world we now live in, then we need to take a long look in the mirror because, in this one word, we can mask our facial expressions, but all too often nowadays, our actions still betray us.

In my opinion, what are the two biggest lies in recruitment? Unfortunately, these two lies are uttered in every recruitment office, on every desk every day.

  1. Yes, Mrs Client, I can fill your job without an issue; I will get CV’s back to you ASAP!
  2. Yes, Mr Candidates, I will call you back with feedback.

Most of the jobs we take on, especially in this candidate market, we know full well we cannot fill, but do we tell our client, no. According to Glassdoor, on average, a job attracts 250 CV’s, of which 4 to 6 will go for an interview, and one will get the job. So we know we will not be calling back all 250 applicants; they will be lucky if they get an email. Still, in the main, we don’t even call back the 4 to 6 that went for the interview with feedback, but we still believe we are upholding our value of honestly because we think we are being authentic to our values.

But worse still, I run courses for recruiters moving into management. Every time I see the same penny drop with delegates, they start to understand that the actions they take every day create a falsehood of caring, naturing, and development for our staff. They cannot see that the people working for them can see that their actions and words do not match, that the person is not authentic no matter how much they proclaim to be.

“I am too busy, but I will come back to you”, but never do! “I will book a meeting to help you with that issue” but cancel it because they are too busy. The list goes on.

Although these sound minor, it is a massive breakdown in the communication chain. If the words and actions do not match, it creates resentment and distrust over time, which builds a barrier between the two parties that is seldom ever broken down.

To be authentic, you have to live not only the words you speak but back them up with the actions you take. Of course, we can mask our facial expressions, especially if we believe we live up to the words we speak. But it is your actions, that will give you away.

Authenticity is creating is monster inside you. It grows over time slowly and then devours you from the inside out. Outside you portray that you are living up to your values! But your actions are now being controlled by the feeling within, counteracting what you are communicating to others.

In this modern world, we have to learn to express ourselves openly and honestly, especially if we truly want to differentiate ourselves externally to our clients and candidates and internally to the people we work with.

Actions speak louder than words. Therefore, to be authentic, your actions not only have to match your words; they have to be loud and clear for all to experience.

So ask yourself this one question, DO THEY?

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