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Are you confident in your abilities at work or in your personal life or do you need to tell the world what you are great at? Then this little blurb may explain what’s behind the SHOW DON’T TELL rule for life in general and well, if you are a writer, you may want to read this too.
Telling something can always be a lie but showing it proves the truth. Such as someone like Bob who tells the world ” I am always on time.” Is Bob really or just saying that to make others believe it. What do Bob’s actions show? Bob actually is often late to work rushing in fifteen to thirty minutes after the shift starts.
However, what if Bob was actually quite punctual? Bob could say, “I punch in at 7:58 every morning, two minutes before the shift starts,” to show it and be truthful or he could say nothing and continue to be prompt for everything, confident in his ability to be punctual which people notice and remember.
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Telling shows a weakness in both proclamation and in writing. In both proclamations above, Bob feels the need to let everyone know he is punctual whether it is true or not. Only Bob knows why he has to broadcast this.
This works both ways. In this instance Mary tells everyone in the neighboring office, “I am the responsible one who plans everything and keeps everything flowing nice.” Mary is partially telling and partially showing, which is better. But…Mary is not responsible but relies on her co-workers to carry the weight of the work and follow through with orders. Her direct peers know this.
However, a different Mary tells the neighboring office this, “Bob has to carry the weight in our office. I’m not much help.” Mary is telling not showing. She is angry with Bob for being so lack in his skills and work ethics that she proclaims it is her hoping someone will disagree with her and tell her she is indeed a great help. By telling people she is not, it is contradictory to what her actions show.
When push comes to shove in work environments, for the most part, your actions speak volumes. But sometimes you do have to state your case to save your job, etc. and then you are best to show them with your words and not just tell. Showing your case with details gives the best choice for proving the truth. Telling offers nothing concrete.
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In writing this is an example of weak writing versus strong writing or known as telling vs. showing:
‘The sun is shining.‘ or ‘Beams of sunlight lit up the field.‘
If I wrote, ‘The sun is shining,’ and later in the paragraph or scene I described a dreary day, the original sentence is a lie or a contradiction, thus showing weak plotting.
Point is, if you have to tell everyone how great you are something, it means you are trying to get others to believe something you yourself do not believe or feel inadequate about. Therefore, instead of touting to the world you are this or that, show them with your actions and let your actions speak for themselves; your actions are what everyone remembers.
‘SHOW DON’T TELL’ is a good rule to follow. Even if you are not a writer, you can apply the same rule to your life in both work and personal.
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