It’s Time to Check your Say:Do Ratio

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Believe it or not, January is almost a distant memory. But it’s the perfect time to check in on your Say:Do ratio. Not familiar with the term? Here’s a better way to reframe it: Do you do what you say you’re going to do?

We often hear people say:

  • “I’ll believe it when I see it!”
  • “They’re all talk, no action.”
  • “Talk is cheap.”

When people say these sorts of things, someone’s Say:Do ratio is being appraised. This week let’s do a self-examination to better understand the big impact this little idea has on our lives. The outcome might just predict how successful or unsuccessful you’ll be with your goals and dreams this year.

I’ll start.

There was a time when my Say:Do was in the basement. I said yes to everything and didn’t take the time to think about how I was going to honor my commitments and other’s expectations. If you wanted to pass something off, I was your girl. On any given day you might hear me say a variation on any of the below overcommitments:

  • “Sure, let’s grab drinks.”
  • “Yes, I’ll be at the fundraiser and of course, I’ll commit to raising $1,000 from friends and family.”
  • “Okay, I’ll make an e-introduction between you and my three LinkedIn connections.”
  • “Yes, I’ll bring the snacks to football practice.”
  • “The subcommittee on diversity? Count me in.”
  • “Sure, I’m happy to review those grant applications.”

And on and on and on.

Yes, I’d get most of it done, but only by the skin of my teeth. And yes, some commitments would run themselves into the ditch because I’d forget entirely. My to-do list was painfully never-ending and mostly self-inflicted.

If you’re like me and have struggled with a low Say-Do ratio now or in the past, you know the ripple effect isn’t pretty. People stop trusting you. Even YOU stop trusting you.  Pew Research did a great study on personal trust and it turns out that—no surprise here—trust is at an all-time low in the US.

The good news is that there is a silver lining and improving your Say:Do ratio is the place to start. The higher a person’s Say-Do ratio, the greater the trust between two people. A high ratio makes you more credible, inspiring partnerships and collaborations. On the flip side, if your Say:Do is low, you lose credibility.

And here’s how I know it’s a valuable principle to monitor. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from highly respected CEO’s across the country and have been honored to coach a few of them. When I ask them to share their secret to successful leadership, one character trait is always mentioned: leading by example. They show up. They follow through. They ALL have high Say:Do ratios.

Regardless of your title, your Say-Do ratio has a huge impact on how others experience you both personally and professionally. And trust me, your friends and family will thank you for improving your follow through!

Next week we’re going to talk about how to do just that. So check back in to get all the tips and tricks.


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