When Words and Behavior Don't Match

It's a sign.

Posted Sep 08, 2014

Do you say what you mean?  It’s hard to imagine anyone answering no to that question, isn’t it? Surely the vast majority of people believe that their words accurately represent their thoughts and feelings.  The bigger question is, “Do you say what you do?” because while people do most likely mean what they say, despite that, they often do something else.

It happens a lot.  Professionally or personally, it doesn’t matter.  There are many cases where people’s words and actions don’t match.  In fact, they are apt to outright contradict one another.  At work we call it the “knowing/doing gap,” and it’s puzzling to say the least.  Moreover, if you are dealing with someone who does this, and try to have a conversation about why he or she said one thing and then did another, it is frustrating at best and completely exhausting at worst.  This is because that person is not aware of it and until he/she is, you’ll go around in circles.  This is where the idea of consciousness derails.  

There is an assumption that knowing indicates consciousness and that speaking words offer evidence of that knowing.  But it doesn’t.  There can be a disconnect between a person’s mind and his or her deeper internal world, which means he or she can talk and talk and talk and be completely disconnected from the words he or she says.  If you’re on the receiving end, it can feel a bit like a trip to the twilight zone.  It makes effectively communicating at work or advancing a personal relationship challenging, if not impossible.  And all we have to work with here is a clue. 

When someone is unable to follow through on what he or she says with behaviors that match, there is a self-awareness glitch.  But it is not just some people.  It is part of the human condition.   If our external self has not developed a relationship with our internal self, they will operate independently until we actively begin to familiarize them with one another and integrate.  It is then when actions begin to align with words and vice versa.  For each individual's personal journey, this is perhaps life’s most profound and confounding challenge. 

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About the Author

Donna Flagg

Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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