The Unsaid Message: What They Are Really Saying

I can assure you that what a person says may be one thing, but their actions are closer to the truth.

Recently, I was assisting a client with the hiring of a manager level position. The partner in this company was very impressed with the applicant after the interview and after receiving some feedback from others. As part of the process, candidates for positions are informed that they will be requested to complete a behavior/trait survey, OAD (Organizational Analysis and Design). It is communicated to a candidate that to move forward in the hiring process they need to complete the survey.

This respective applicant, Pat, was sent the survey request as part of the application process on a Tuesday. The OAD survey requires 10 or 15 minutes of a person’s time. Expectations of the hiring partner were that any individual going through their hiring process would want to complete the survey as soon as possible.

What we received in response to sending the survey request was not what was expected. The candidate sent a message on that same Tuesday stating that she was very busy during the next few days and would complete the survey by end of week.

What Pat may not realize is that her actions would speak louder than words: the “unsaid message.”

Depending on the partner’s situation, he could interpret Pat’s delay to completing the survey in many ways. For example:

  • What are her priorities?
  • Does she really want this job?
  • She couldn’t find 10-15 minutes to complete the survey?
  • Is this task not important enough?
  • Her heart’s desire is not focused on working in this company.
  • If she would push back such an important step on her own behalf, will she make decisions in the same manner in this position?
  • Related: Leaders: Do You Know How to Deliver a Message?

    Then again, there also could be nothing to interpret about the behavior above. However, as the candidate, you’re leaving a lot up to someone else’s judgment. Why expose yourself to someone else’s perceptions as to what you mean because there is a gap between what you say and what you do?

    The key is to be intentional about all you say and do. Think long, hard and deep about the impact of your communication and actions. Think from others’ Relevance Factor™: what is most relevant to the person based on his/her thoughts, ideas, concerns, cares and values at the time of communication?

    What we do related to what we say is the “unsaid message.” Because we are human beings, we have the ability to manifest a “story” about what something means, creating a gap between what is said and the related behavior. If you don’t want people to misinterpret your intentions, then do what you say you’re going to do.

    The choice is yours!