Author James Clear shared the following observation in his newsletter: “You know yourself mostly by your thoughts. Everyone else in the world knows you only by your actions.”

It reminded me of a lesson by Patrick Lencioni describing the Fundamental Attribution Error – we attribute other people’s behaviors to their character (internal attribution) whereas we claim the environment impacts our own actions (external attribution). Lencioni gives the example of a dad harshly scolding his kids in the store – we think that he is a mean, angry man – but when we do the same thing, we justify it because we have unruly children.

As Clear says, we know ourselves by understanding the rationale behind our behaviors, but others only see the external result. If we feel misunderstood, we need to translate our thoughts into verbal communication or explicit actions that others can see.

How can you develop congruency between what you are thinking and how you are acting to avoid an observable gap? You need to be giving the behavioral cues that help others know you rather than guessing about you. As many in relationships have lamented: “I’m not a mind reader.” Neither are those around you.

James Clear’s 3-2-1 Newsletter 8-29-19
Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team video


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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