The Say Do Paradox: A communication challenge contest

8 Jun

Recently I have been spending some time with a group that consists mostly of engineers.  Of course, we have been discussing the say/do ratio.  One of them pointed out rightly that from a mathematical perspective the say-do ratio is incorrect, that it is in fact the do-say ratio.  Aaaa – paradox.

Mathematically it is the do/say ratio for in fact the denominator is say.  A person with a perfect relationship between say and do, always doing what she says she will do, will have a ratio of 1.00.

But, from a longitudinal and grammatical perspective it is the say/do ratio as this is the order in which the events occur.

Anyone of you out there who can come up with a way to resolve this communication conflict, in a manner I find compelling, I will sent a postage paid copy of Beyond Luck. The contest ends on June 22.  Let the cleverness begin.  Please post your entries.

By the way, another paradox.  The say/do or do/say ratio is not an exhaustive set.  There is another powerful option: the “do only ratio” (?).  Consider the effect of actions, positive or negative, that are not accompanied by words.  Interesting, eh?

Sorry about missing last week, I seem to have misplaced a day.

2 Responses to “The Say Do Paradox: A communication challenge contest”

  1. Karl Pennings June 9, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I didn’t actually point out that the say/do ratio is incorrect. I just pointed out that a higher say/do ratio is actually worse, not better. I also like the sound of say/do ratio better than do/say ratio. I think the only thing that you need to do is change the way that you describe the ratio. Instead of saying someone has a high say/do ratio when they always do what they so, indicate that the person has a great or excellent say/do ratio. Excellent in this case would mean closer to unity. I would even argue that you could even have a ratio less than unity if you did things without talking about them first. As Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said”.

  2. David Salazar June 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I think the say/do concept is a great concept. It reminds me of Bushido, the Japanese code of conduct meaning “way of the warrior”. One of the codes in Bushido is honor. In our class, we talked about respect, but I believe honor is also a great characteristic of a leader. In my studies of Bushido, I learned that a samurai never had to promise to do something. If he said he would do it, it would be done. This is the very nature of the say/do concept.

    On the other hand, instead of the say/do concept, what about just the do concept? The say/do concept is great in theory but there is no relationship to the time in between the actual “say” and “do”. How many times have we all said we were going to do the dishes but did not really intend on doing them any time soon. My father taught me that actions speak louder than words. I think the do concept also has merit in that our actions define us.

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