Behavior is communication – about the use of time.
How to communicate through the use of time and how to show that you care.
“It is not possible not to communicate”, I love this sentence and I use it as an ear opener in many workshops as well as in my coaching sessions. I am fascinated by the human implicit messages always wondering what we actually would like to express and not only in critical situations.
I was sitting at the airport a couple of day ago, observing the persons passing by. The way they walked on the pathway is expressing our way we walk through life, the way we open or close our hands making the oscillating movement of the arms is expressing our openness to the outer world.
I was also watching the “social” and interactive movements of people expressing their willingness to communicate. For example smiling to the person next to him in the queue for boarding, or a nodding sign giving the pass entering a store. I love the effects of body language, and I love the pieces of information I can discover observing people.
Behavior is communication. It is not a mystery, we all know that people see what we do and translate it in what we are. In many cases I must say “unfortunately”, as people tend to judge without having all the pieces of information. In this case is the judging person expressing more than the other one.
In leadership we talk about “leading by example”: if you are not putting into practice what you are asking your employees to do, what are you communicating actually? What are you telling them? What should they think of you? An old story, though.
Also when you are gossiping about someone, you are actually saying something about yourself. Clear hints, clear communication. I normally take distance from these people.
We live in an era where information is transparent, unbelievable quick, and full of details. We can discover a lot about someone just writing the name in google. A picture says more than 1000 words, today we are aware of this. But also NOT being in the web means something.
This morning I read an article about an architect who gave an interview stressing the fact that he loves expressing himself through his profession and his art. Every artist, such as handcrafters or musicians, knows exactly what the architect was talking about. In the whole, in every moment of our life we are communicating, if we want it or not.
In this period of my life there is a topic that makes me reflect a lot: the use of time. People who are chronically coming late to appointments, people who are procrastinating, people who are not able to organize their time and end up realizing that time has passed by and they haven’t done anything concretely are expressing something. Even people that want to meet and that at the end don’t show up… what are they expressing? I call them “Time-destroyer” because at the end they are deciding for your time.
How we spend our time is a personal matter (and this already says something about myself), but the real issue starts when we are acting “invading” the time of others and as a consequence, deciding for the others. For example always showing up late to appointments or changing their plans of meeting you shortly before the meeting just because they “changed their mind” or because they are not well organized to be on time.
It is quite clear that it is how often they do it that marks the pace and defines the kind of message that is coming through. It is a matter of fact that the other persons dealing with these kind of people could get easily tired of this behavior, depending on the boundary and relationship they have. And depending on their level of patience, too.
Anyway this behavior communicates clearly the idea: it is about me, I don’t want to compromise, and I am more important than you. Maturity level and narcissism level can make the impact even stronger.
Another thing that I have been observing is also how these people apologize for their behavior. They normally know what and why they are doing it, so it is easier to say a quick “sorry” (because they have to) and never show up again.
In the best case they tell you that you are the problem and you are not flexible enough. Ironic? Sarcastic? No: immature and selfish!
What are they communicating? It is a simple matter of respect and at the end they are making themselves ridiculous and unbelievable.
If you want to show and express respect start with your behavior, it is a matter of attitude. If you don’t care about the other, don’t make them lose their time.
- Work on your time management: don’t make others responsible for your problem.
- If you have made up to meet the person and the circumstances are bringing you to change the plans (even though YOU decide), don’t put the others in front of decisions you already made. Ask BEFORE you decide what they think about it and explain the situation – “my friend is coming over so we can’t meet tomorrow, as we decided already” is a trust-killer.
- Organize your time and decide what your priorities are. Stay true to yourself and decide what is important for you.
- Don’t make people wait on you or for you, just be on time. It is a matter of respect for their time.
- Don’t hide yourself behind: “Well, I am this way”, because it is a matter of behavior, not of “being”. It is a cheap excuse and shows immaturity.
- If you want it you can make it. Maybe you just don’t want it…
Good relationships start from our attitude of respect towards others.