“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of all routines, one of the most serene would have to be the time I spend running. I run inside our village which is very quiet and has a lot of trees and wide roads. But yesterday, while I was getting back from my regular afternoon run, I was startled by a loud roaring and banging from behind me. I thought I was going to turn around to see a huge truck or large SUV coming my way. But it wasn’t.
I was instead looking back at a run-down jeep going at twenty km/hr but looked like it would fall apart at any minute. While watching that loud and seemingly dangerous vehicle, I couldn’t help but compare it to other more fit cars that can be twice the size and go four times that speed yet make less than half the noise.
I just couldn’t help but create a metaphor in my own mind of how many times people around us can be one of those two cars. We sometimes come into contact with people who make a lot of noise- talking about themselves, attracting “followers” on social media, and giving out unsolicited advice- but really seem like they could fall apart in any second. And then there are the people that don’t seem to make any sound, and yet they seem to almost just whiz by you in all their flare and skill without taking a moment to even try to catch your intention.
Ecclesiastes 9:17 (ESV) has this to say: “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” We all know which kind of person we would rather be, but if you truly took time to look at yourself in the mirror would you be looking at a quiet yet effective sports car or a run-down and noisy jeep? Here are four simple thoughts on how to make sure that our actions speak louder than your words and hopefully achieve more influence without having to be “noisy.”
1. Genuinely care about what others have to say first
I will not lie, this is something that I have struggled with for a long time, and still struggle with sometimes. Sometimes we might desire attention for good reasons- yes, you do have something to offer, you do want to help people and you do have gifts that could make life better for others.
But there could be nothing more true than the old saying “people will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We know when someone really cares about others and when someone just cares about being heard. Which one do you care about more?
2. Don’t act like you have it all figured out
Sherrilyn Kenyon once said “Lips and tongues lie. But actions never do. No matter what words are spoken, actions betray the truth of everyone’s heart.” No one’s perfect, I understand. Even the biggest finance experts will have a financial slip-up at some point, parenting experts will be clueless with their kids sometime.
Sometimes the most empowering thing to say is “I don’t know.” When we act like we know what we’re doing even when we don’t we’re only just creating unnecessary noise, not lasting and helpful impact.
3. Stop looking to accolades and honor
If there’s one thing that will cause anyone to be too obnoxiously noisy, it’s the desire for accolates and honor. I like what Darlene Zschech, one of today’s most highly-respected worship leaders, once said. The human heart was not meant for honor because we can’t handle it. All honor is to be deflected back to God because He alone deserves it.
That’s not to say that we falsely act “humble” by shutting down all awards and recognitions, but don’t make it an end goal and definitely don’t let it go to your head.
4. Let your work speak for you
Truth be told most times we don’t really have to talk about what we do especially when you’ve accomplished something already. Your work and your distance will speak for you. Whether that’s an artwork, a public speaking gig, a book, a song, a client relationship, a closed sales deal or anything that you might have made or done, let it do all the talking for you.
As much as people love hearing stories, the least attention-grabbing one is the autobiography. What really speaks volumes is when we let the results and those who benefit from our results do all the talking for us.