Managing Conversations: Use Yourself Well

Posted on | September 3, 2009 | No Comments

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In my work as a facilitator, consultant and coach I am often in situations in which people want to know how to best manage a difficult conversation either one on one or in a group setting. One essential part of helping to facilitate a conversation is to know yourself really well. One particular piece of information you need is to know your own personality or “presence.” This refers to the energetic quality you have no matter where you are. It’s what you exude without even speaking.

We have all had first impressions. Where do they come from?? We just see someone and we get sense of them. Some people feel intense, some warm and friendly, some aloof, some guarded and so on. The immediate impression you make is important to know. This energy is foundational. It’s what people sense or pick up almost immediately. How you use that quality can directly impact your work with others. If you ignore it, you may well be impacting in ways you are unaware of. If you use the quality with care it can support you in being successful.

If you come off as soft, you have more latitude with the words you choose. A client of mine who is a high-ranking executive in the government asked me to help her have a more authoritative presence. In her case, she had a very warm and soft presence. We were not going to change that; we were going to use it. We worked on strengthening her words. Given her natural warmth, she could use much stronger language than someone who has a commanding or intimidating presence. People with a strong, imposing presence have to soften their language to counter their natural energy. Being aware of your natural energy can help you adjust both you tone ad words to create in a conscious way the impact you want to have.

Take some time and think about how you strike people in a first impression. How would others describe you? Ask a few friends, “What was your first impression of me?” Another very telling exercise is to get with friend or trusted colleague and ask them to finish this sentence “ In your presence, I feel…” Their answers you get will be clues about how you strike people before you even talk!

Use the rule of “confront with your words and support with your tone.” If you bear in mind what energetics you bring and adjust this formula accordingly you will, in all likelihood, be able to manage your impact with more precision.

Try it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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