Do you do the right thing but say the wrong thing? Or…err…vice versa?

porcupineOne of my favorite writers Gretchen Rubin comes up with distinctions that help us understand ourselves, as well as understand others. For instance, she says people can be divided into over-buyers and under-buyers, tiggers and eeyores, and marathoners and sprinters to name a few. While human beings are too complex to be neatly bundled into a category, seeing the world through the lens of distinctions can certainly help us navigate ourselves, and those around us, more successfully.

Inspired by this way of viewing the world, I feel a thrill when I identify what seems like a promising distinction. Recently, a distinction struck me that relates to the “Say-Do gap.” The “say-do” gap essentially means that there is a gap between what people say, and what people do. We all know that. What struck me though is people can be divided into two categories based on which way their their say-do gap swings.

  • Say the right thing and do the wrong thing; this reminds me of “all that glitters is not gold.”
  • Do the right thing but say the wrong thing; this reminds me of Adam Grant’s concept of a “porcupine giver;” people who may look gruff on the outside but are generous at heart.

I’ve just stumbled upon this distinction and I want to spend some time understanding this more deeply.

  • What can be the drivers behind “say the right thing, do the wrong thing?” One obvious one seems malintent. Can there be any other driver? Are there any positive drivers that lead people to say one thing and do another.
  • Similarly, why do some people do all the right things, but say all the wrong things? Is fear one of the reasons that cause people to say the wrong thing? Is it that they don’t understand the importance of saying the right thing? Is it that they don’t know how to say the right thing?
  • Does this distinction  at all relate to the other distinction that I came up with – around being harder on yourself, or harder on others? Or not?

What do you think of this distinction? Where would you type yourself? And how would you answer my questions above? Would love to learn more. Drop in your comments.

Did you enjoy this? Follow the blog as I make sense of myself, others around me, and my life in general. Based on whom I’ve been hanging out with, what I’ve been reading, and how I’m feeling, you may get very different blog posts landing in your inbox. Like you, I’m more than just one thing.

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