Constance van Niekerk, South Africa
Hell no! I don’t care if the adage is time-honoured or not. The utterance is nothing more than a coward’s way out! Instead of saying what is in your heart, if you are the cowardly type you hide behind silly actions based on the notion that ‘Action Speaks Louder than Words’!
Ladies, which speaks louder, being told ‘I love you’ or being given a bunch of flowers? Personally I wouldn’t mind hearing the words, ‘I love you’, as often as every second of the day. Words such as ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I miss you’ are very powerful words that can save you a lot of heartaches, prevent divorce and make separation simply unattractive. These essential words can even prevent friends from turning into lifetime enemies. Which actions can speak louder than these few words? If you are sorry, and do not say it, must a person assume it just because you are smiling at them?
Some years back, I had a Japanese friend. He was always there when I needed him. One Valentine’s Day while I was working at a school in Chegutu he travelled from Harare to visit me and left me a red rose. It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me. We went shopping together and even did the movies. We were so inseparable that whoever saw us together must have assumed we were dating, or even married! These were all actions that showed love yes, but just because he did all those things for me did it mean that he loved me? I cannot be held accountable for the way I interpret other people’s actions, including those of my erstwhile Japanese friend, as I see them. I saw his actions as just him being a friend. Imagine the difference the words ‘I love you’ could have made? We could have ended up married and I instead of living in South Africa could now be living in Japan! The magical three words could have changed our whole lives! So, do action really speak louder words?
How many people are in love with their friends but do nothing to advance their cause because, yes you guessed it, they believe that ‘Action speaks louder than words’? They go on loving and caring but never actually pronouncing the words that would matter. Not surprisingly, they never get to know the difference that “I love you” would have made to their lives. Year after year these friends get into relationships, some of which lead to marriage while others hardly ever go anywhere. Looked at this way, how true sound the words ‘Faint heart never won a fair lady’. I would add that faint heart never won a handsome dude either!
Cowards typically hide behind ‘actions’ because they do not have the guts to say what is on their minds. This far transcends matters of the heart and even pervades the work place. Not even our children are spared!
Actions will always be misinterpreted but with words, you can let a person know exactly how you feel. A lot of friendships are broken just because words are not spoken.
If a person sends you a message and you do not reply, does that ‘action’ of not replying necessarily mean you do not want to talk to them? What if you happen to be busy at the time that you receive the message? Conversely, the other person cannot be adjudged to be wrong should they assume that the no-reply is because the receiver of the message did not desire to do such a thing. This would be a logical assumption to make in the absence of words to the contrary. So, why don’t people learn to make better use of words to communicate? It seems to me that action does not speak louder than words, and that actions are often misleading and misunderstood. Saying the words saves people the trouble of indulging in guessing games.
On a number of times my husband has complained that my daughter does not greet him when he comes back from work or when he wakes up in the morning. On asking my daughter why she did that, her version of what happened was that he didn’t answer each time she greeted him. Paradoxically, my daughter has on more than one occasion asked me why I do not respond to her greetings. I have now come to know that, in fact, she does greet us, but tends to speak so softly that my husband and I hardly ever hear her. It took just a few words of enquiry to clear a misunderstanding that could have left us labelling my daughter rude. The same can happen to neighbours, workmates or friends. Instead of assuming that because the action shows that they are ignoring you or that they do not want to speak to you, you might just surprise yourself if you take the trouble to find out.
Don’t they also say ‘Cash talk breaks no friendship’? Now, there’s something that I totally buy. ‘Action speaks louder than words’? That I don’t buy.