My dad used to say that there were four basic types of people in the world.
- There are the people who say negative things and do negative things. They are pretty easy to spot and avoid.
- There are positive people who do positive things. These folks are harder to find, since they are rare. When you do find them, treat them like the gems they are, for they can and will teach you much.
- The third type of person may say negative things, but when you look at their actions they are positive.
- The fourth type is people who say positive things and act negatively. My dad’s advice about that group was “to beware and be gone” for dealing with those people leads to grief.
Healthy long-lasting relationships are built on trust and respect. Trust and respect are built on there being positive congruence between our words and our actions.
We may trust the negative/negative person to have congruence in words and actions, but he or she lacks our respect.
The person who says negative things, but acts positively earns our respect, but not our trust.
The person who speaks positively and acts negatively gets neither our trust nor respect.
It is only those people who have positive congruence in their words, thoughts and deeds that we trust and respect.
In which of these four groups are you? Which group would you like to be?
Our children figure out these four groups pretty quickly, even though they might not be able to describe it as clearly as my father. A child knows if you say one thing and do another, your actions are what count.
And by negative words, I’m not talking about telling your children “If you don’t eat your vegetables, no dessert.” Where you should be concerned is if you say no vegetables, no dessert, and then serve dessert when the brussel sprouts are on the dinner plate. You have stepped into the territory of “beware and be gone”, for your child learns quickly that your words and actions are not matched. Your child’s trust and respect for you is diminished. With many repetitions of mismatched words and actions, you’ll be hard pressed to win back that trust and respect.
On the other hand, if our children tell us one thing–like they’ll clean their rooms before they go out to play–and we walk into a messy room, we may feel a lack of trust and respect.
But…we cannot expect what we don’t inspect.
Being the adult in charge we have to help our children learn the importance of having their words and actions be in positive congruence, because that is where thriving interconnections bloom. We have to hold our children accountable to what they have told us they would do.
We have to watch our children’s actions carefully for they tell us where we need to offer help.
For ourselves, we need to walk our talk. We have to watch our actions even more vigilantly. It is difficult, but the payback is worth it.
Because actions speak louder than words.