Say , Mean…Do

Grey, grey, grey .

Not the mood but rather the weather outlook for the next few days/weeks (?) again. It feels like that little burst of sunshine has tricked us all into “Spring Fever”. It feels like the message was misrepresented somewhat after those two days of glorious sunshine. Nevertheless a good introduction to what I wanted to share – the importance of clear communication.

I have been meaning (for some weeks now) to share my experiences from a rather wonderful book that I was gifted at the end of last year.

It is “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. (

For many years I was travelling out of my home base in South Africa and had to almost by trial and error learn how to communicate across several different cultures. Having read this book I can truly appreciate all the little nuances that are raised here- I strongly recommend anyone working in a multi-cultural environment to take the time to read it too ( or I will supply the coffee and we can chat about it!).

Without going into too much detail it covers many elements of “Communication” across cultures as well as highlighting the subtle ( and sometimes not so subtle) differences in giving feedback, instructions, challenging idea’s, in all it is a modern day “handbook” to better cope with culturally diverse teams.

Enough digression !

This week has been similar to the last and the last before it – unfortunately. The wait is ongoing to see if the damage to my kidneys has recovered/improved sufficiently to initiate the medication again ( take three…) but the downside is the constant feeling of walking on razor blades ( nerves in my feet are constantly firing signals to the brain). This has certainly limited what I have been able to get done but hopefully in the next month or two ( or three) there will be some improvement.

Following on from the introduction of “the Culture Map” I came across this little anecdote during the week and I think it particularly relevant to the current headlines doing the rounds on social networks.

With the ongoing Brexit fiasco I think this is particularly apt.(or for the PDR cycle that no doubt will begin soon !!!!)

Say, Mean, Do

First, “Say what you mean”. How many people do you know who say what they think the people they’re talking to want or expect to hear rather than speaking the unvarnished facts? Or present things in “politically correct” terminology, often obfuscating what they’re saying in seemingly “proper” language. When this happens, the facts are not really presented. Often when they speak in this fashion, the people they’re speaking with need to apply a “reverse translator” (or bullsh!t filter) to try to convert what has been said to what was really meant. This approach is extremely inefficient and often misleading or even dangerous. Isn’t it better to hear what was meant rather than what the speaker thinks you want to hear? How can people expect to make informed decisions if the person speaking to them isn’t saying what he/she means? By really saying what you mean, you cut through the clutter and present the facts or your direct opinion so that things can be discussed meaningfully without going through a kabuki dance. While this direct approach of saying what you mean may startle, surprise, or discomfort others, you’re really better off knowing directly what was meant rather than having to interpret, often incorrectly. This doesn’t mean you should be insulting, just direct.

Next, “Mean what you say”. If you say what you mean, but you don’t really mean what you say, what have you gained or what has the person you’re speaking with gained? If you don’t mean what you say, you’re lying or at least misleading. There may be times when you want to be careful not to hurt someone’s feelings or betray a trust, but that means being diplomatic, not misleading. If you say what you mean, and mean what you say, you can build a foundation of trust. You speak your mind, and stand behind what you’re saying. Done right, people will recognize that while they may not always like or agree with what you say, they know they will always get the straight scoop from you. By not coupling these two parts together, trust relationships will become difficult if not impossible.

Finally, “Do what you say you’ll do”.  If you commit to do something, follow through! Deliver on what you’ve promised. Let people see that your word is your bond. If circumstances prevent you from delivering fully, report back the cause of the problem. By saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you’ve gone a long way to build trust with the people you work and deal with. If you don’t then follow through on your commitments, that trust will not only be squandered, it will leave a very bad taste in other people’s mouths. You’ve led them to believe you and trust you, and then you let them down. Trust is difficult to build, but extremely easy to destroy. Be the person you would like to be and the person you would like others to be.

This is much like the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but I believe “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’ll do” goes beyond that. It lets people know that you are a straight shooter who tells it like it is and delivers on your commitments. You are someone who can be trusted and valued.

Now of course, we’re all human and we sometimes fall short of our ideal behavior. No one is perfect. Still, when that happens, recognize it (sometimes this may be difficult, but as they say recognizing that you have a problem is a critical first step), apologize sincerely for falling short, and do what is required to correct your shortfall and go beyond what is required. Do this willingly and with gusto. With such a positive attitude you can recover lost trust. Without such an attitude, hard earned trust may be lost forever.
( I believe this is Tom Dennis – a few years ago (2010-2011) from his series Workplace Insanity)

Here’s to a brighter weekend and week ahead – somehow that little bit of sunshine we had seems a distant memory already !

Published by Daniel Taylor

MS Warrior with an affinity for 80's New Wave music and deep philosophical ramblings...and coffee , definitely coffee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: