Words can speak louder than actions

Among the most valuable types of insights is the logic behind what drives us to do something. Anyone expecting to influence someone else should pay close attention to the study of behavior if they are to make something meaningful.

Behavior is the ultimate demonstration of return on investment. Our customer buys our product. We manage to get a thousand new clients ahead of schedule. Our opt-out rate is decreasing. Behavior matters a big deal and as the people say, actions speak louder than words.

Except when they don’t.

The guy who consistently delivers 12-hour workdays. The industry expert who just followed you on Twitter. Those endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. The people at your branded event. The old lady who bought the expensive fish this time. Or in other words...

The workaholic who can’t take it any more. The chump who just wants you to follow him back. Those people that don’t even know what you do for a living. Your work colleagues (and mother) at your branded event. The old lady who picked the wrong type of fish and will fail to serve her husband his favorite food.

All examples where despite the results, despite behavior, there was no true meaningful attitude. No real motivation. Just very specific forms of despair, misleading, ignorance, frustration and an honest mistake.

Behavior is defined as “the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment”. It’s extrospective, it breeds action, it sets things in motion. On the other hand, attitude is defined as “a position assumed for a specific purpose”. It’s introspective, it requires motivation, it’s the words and stories we tell ourselves regarding our own behavior.

We often focus so much on changing behavior we forget about the importance of attitude. Looking at the results, we forget why and how those results came to be. Looking at people’s actions, we forget (or don't know) the words they tell themselves and others before and after that moment. These words alone are vital for people to feel (and keep feeling) happy, interested, guilt-free, and willing to go back for more.

Without the proper attitude to back it up, behavior alone can be rendered useless. Without the proper words to justify our story, our actions can simply lose their reason to be. So attitudes can speak louder than behavior.

And words can speak louder than actions.