4 Top Tips to raise your say:do ratio

Talk is cheap, behaviours are priceless.

Raise your impact in 2021 by ramping up your ‘say:do’ ratio. With more people spending time working in the virtual world either ‘working from home or living at work’, our say:do ratio is extremely important. It is time to raise our game with this critical behaviour.

We can all say things that sound amazing, encouraging, ground-breaking and insightful. But without follow-through and true integrity behind those words, it means nothing. If you want to have greater impact in your interactions with others, better stakeholder relationships and better results - then pay attention to and take control of your say:do ratio.

So, what does that mean? In straight talking terms it means what you say is what you do. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Say:do ratio is about keeping a promise that you have made. Now that we have used the word promise there is an emotional connection and now it feels like there is more momentum to actually do it.

Say:do ratio is about keeping a promise that you have made

In the virtual workplace there is a greater expectation on us all to do what we say we will do. And why is that? Because there is less interaction in between those back-to-back video calls. If you were in an office environment you may be able to check in on each other, have side conversations and even ask ‘How is that going?”. You may get a visual clue from the non-verbal communication that is now lacking in our online world.

To 'walk the talk' has long been an expression of expectation - we expect people to mean what they say and to do and be what they say. But maybe it's not always that easy. We can be well-meaning, but the follow-through is hindered by company culture and processes, by lack of time or for other reasons.

Well, that may well be the case, but unless we do what we say (=high say:do ratio) we start to erode trust and we chip away at psychological safety in people we depend on and who depend on us.

So, it's well worth ensuring that we live up to the say:do ratio our role needs and demands. If you do what you say then you will be seen by others as more reliable and more consistent.

Your reputation is impacted by your say:do ratio

Some leaders may miss on their commitments because they can at times overestimate their available free time, or they simply want to try and please others. Some have unclear priorities and don’t know when to say yes or no to requests. All of these valid reasons have an impact and they affect the person at the other end.

Here are 4 practical ways to increase your say:do ratio and walk the talk.

TOP TIP 1: Take a moment, take a breath, challenge yourself before you commit. Ask yourself: do you really intend to do this, what will the impact be if you do or do not do it? Are you really willing to do it, is it purposeful to you? Does it mean something for you to get involved? What about if you don’t do it, what is the impact of that on others?

TOP TIP 2: The issue can often be that we just should have said no in the first place. It is OK to say no. Try the say:do or perhaps don’t:say (don’t say it in the first place) if you don’t mean it or are not going to commit. Or give yourself permission to be OK with saying no. Saying no is not about what you say but ‘how’ you say no. Take time to think about how you position your ‘no’, put yourself in the other’s shoes to enable you to imagine how that will be for the other person.

TOP TIP 3: Communicate when you follow through. Let relevant people know when you’ve done something you promised. Keep making the links between something you’ve talked about and what has happened. Help people see the links to the bigger picture. In the virtual world of work, this is particularly important.

TOP TIP 4: Be consistent in your actions. If you stick with being authentic you are more likely to be consistent. Consistency in leadership is underrated. Consistent behaviours signal authenticity, that something is happening by designation and character. Be consistent. Figure out what you stand for and act from that place with integrity. When leaders are not consistent in their actions and behaviours, they can be perceived as 'loose cannons' and create fearful reactions in others, which undermine transparency, trust and collaboration. For an example of this, check out our story "George, the angry CEO" in the November issue of IMPACT.


In closing, think of someone you know who has a high say:do ratio. What is it that they do that makes it high? How do you know for sure they will do what they say? What traits do they have? What do they role model? What do you want to create in terms of your say:do?

Now apply the say:do ratio to you.

"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters"

Alan K Simpson

Author: Mandy and Elisabet

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