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It’s not what you say, it’s what they see

by Randall Craig on June 13, 2006

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management,

Tagged as: ,

Who doesn’t remember the old adage “Do as I say, not as I do”? For today’s progressive manager, this expression isn’t really appropriate. But how about “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do”? This variation is better, as it focuses on action. Furthermore, when you do and say the same things, you develop credibility with your workmates. The reason why is simple: no hypocrisy.

To improve your effectiveness though, even this is not enough.

Before opening your mouth or hitting the “send” button on an email, put yourself in the shoes of your audience: how would each person interpret what you said? And more important, how would each person interpret your actions? Before making a sales presentation, how would each person on the customer’s side of the table interpret your words? And when you are in a job interview, focus on how your answers will be interpreted.

When it comes to communication, interpretation is in the mind of the listener, not in the intentions of the speaker. When it comes to managing effectively, it’s not what you say, it’s what they see that will make a difference.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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