We all know people who talk a big game but have little to show for it.
Then there are those who let their actions speak for them.
This could be an employee who consistently meets deadlines and takes ownership of their work. They support their team and they are truly committed to what they do.
This is opposed to someone who makes a habit of talking about how dedicated they are to their work but misses deadlines and doesn’t live up to their promises.
Our personal lives also present us with situations where mere words are not doing the job. Perhaps a real change has to be made in some profound way.
Here are six situations where there needs to be a lot less talk and a lot more action.
1) When more than an apology is in order
“But that second part…changing your actions. That’s really where things change. It’s where actions speak louder than words. It’s relatively easy to say you’re sorry and to mean it in the moment. It’s another to actually change actions.”
Words can only go so far when it comes to behavior that is affecting someone’s stress levels and is also threatening a relationship.
Such a scenario could be a spouse who overindulges in alcohol any time there’s family function or other social event.
You’ve most likely been embarrassed and have expressed to your partner that you don’t like how they behave at such events. They’ve probably apologized—even promised not to do the same thing again.
Next time, instead of complaining about the situation, the staff at the American Counseling Association recommends picking up the car keys, handing over some cash for that cab ride home, and then going to your car and driving home—alone.
“There are many situations [like this one] where taking action is the most effective course.”
You might be hesitant to take a bold step such as the one recommended above because you don’t want to embarrass your partner. You also don’t want anyone at the party getting wind of the situation because you know it will be the subject of gossip.
But think about it. Your partner is already embarrassing you by having too much to drink. Perhaps you have silently suffered countless slights or off-color remarks from them whenever they have gotten tipsy. Sure you’ve spoken up about it with them the day after, after the fact. But the situation happens again and again like a loop.
At the end of the day, the person who will be embarrassed is your partner.
And as far as the fear of gossip is concerned, the people who say things about your situation behind your back are not your friends.
You’ll feel better for having taken a stand, because then the issue has a real chance of not happening again.
“Yes, there will be protests, and yes, you will want to explain calmly what is happening and why, but the bottom line is that actions are much harder to ignore than simple words.”
2) When it comes to dating
The whole point of dating is to find out if the two of you are suitable for one another and are able to trust each other.
After all, it’s our behavior—much more than what we say—that reveals who we are, especially when we’re getting to know each other.
For example, if your partner is struggling with something, it’s essential to show your support, says Barrie Davenport from Live Bold and Bloom.
“Listen to their problems. Support them through any obstacles. Be there for them even when it’s inconvenient.”
Support includes respecting their boundaries. This means not pushing them to talk about something before they’re ready and not forcing physical touch if they need space, says Davenport.
“Be gentle, patient, and understanding.”
Being reliable and saying you’re reliable are two completely different things.
In a relationship for instance, don’t make promises you can’t keep. “If you say you’ll do something, follow through,” says Davenport.
“Honor your commitments. Your partner will be more likely to trust you if your actions show you’re true to your word.”
A potential future together is based on actions much more than it is on words.
3) When you want to get out of a rut
Many of us know when we’re in a rut. We know it so well that we talk to our friends about it. We talk to our family about it. We don’t just talk about it, we complain about it. We moan about it.
But the truth is, as much as we may despise being stuck in a rut, deep down we probably don’t really want to get out of it.
That’s because if we truly wanted to get out of it, we wouldn’t be pouring our energy into carrying on and on about it.
Instead, that energy would be channeled into actually doing something about it.
This could be approaching our employer and asking for a raise. Or getting a resume together and looking for and applying for other jobs.
It could mean going back to school to pursue a whole other career.
If you’ve fallen behind in your personal or professional goals, it’s important to take stock of them and get back on track, says Frances Bridges from Forbes.
“If you think of everything you need to do you can easily get overwhe, so don’t get overwhelmed, write everything down and get to work, chipping away at one task at a time.”
Bridges says it’s also important not to get so hung up on the idea of perfection.
“If you get hung up on perfection, you will never finish a project and you will never feel good about your work,” she says. “All you can do is try your best, and take solace in the fact that good or bad, it is your best effort, and there will be another day and another project for you to do better.”
But you’ll have gotten yourself out of the rut and you’re moving in the right direction.
You’re not just talking about what you need to do—you’re actually taking action and doing it.
4) When you’re serious about pursuing that side hustle
We no longer live in a generation where you can go your entire life working at one job or for one company until you retire.
Many of us know that in order to get ahead, we need to have multiple streams of income flowing in.
This could be investing in real estate so as to get some passive income coming in.
It could be writing that e-book or training guide for a consulting firm you want to set up on the side.
It could mean creating a website to showcase the line of products you’ve created around self-care and well-being.
But there comes a point when all the planning in the world is the exact same thing as doing absolutely nothing at all.
Actions speak louder than words when you want to up-level and change your life in some way.
You have to get the ball rolling. And then keep it going.
5) When boundaries need to be brought in
This could be a parent or an in-law who has a habit of criticizing you. You’ve tried ignoring them. You’ve tried telling them politely that you don’t appreciate their criticism. You might even have gotten sucked into a full-on argument about it with them.
But inevitably, the criticism creeps in again…and then again.
“Instead of arguing with them about the problem, just inform [them] that the next time they call to criticize you, you’re simply going to hang up,” says the American Counseling Association.
And here’s the kicker: then follow through and do just that. Not with anger, but with a positive, calm attitude.
6) When you need to overcome an addiction
Addiction can be one of the most difficult things to be positively actionable about. Whether it’s an addiction to legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, smoking, or any other unhealthy habit, change is hard. And change is scary.
But there might not even be a choice because it might even be a matter of life and death.
It can be helpful to set a “quit date” so that you are prepared to take action and are giving yourself some time to mentally and physically prepare, says the team at Harvard Health Publishing. “It might be helpful to choose a meaningful date like a special event, birthday, or anniversary.”
It’s also essential to take action by changing your environment. “This means removing any reminders of your addiction from your home and workplace. For example, separate from those who would encourage you to be involved with the object of your addiction (dry, alcohol, or behavior).”
If you are trying to quit drinking, get rid of not all the alcohol, but also bottle openers, wine glasses, and corkscrews.
“If you’re trying to quit gambling, remove any playing cards, scratch tickets, or poker chips. Also don’t let other people use or bring reminders of the addiction-related substance or behavior into your home.”
Think ahead: instead of telling this to someone just before they come over, send a group text or email asking them not to bring reminders. Announcing your intention to quit the addiction will not only garner you support, but it will also help you feel more accountable.
It also takes care of everything all at once.
A Quora user pens the importance of action perfectly and poetically:
If you tell me you are sorry, truly sorry, and then keep hurting me in the same way over and over, changing nothing, not altering your behavior at all—actions speak louder than words.
If you tell me you love me, really love me, and your behavior disregards me, diminishes me; if all I feel is inattention, indifference, and an absence of respect—actions speak louder than words.
If you make promise after promise and you do not follow through on what you say you are going to do, I want less promises and more follow through.
Because actions speak louder than words.
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