Your Presence Influences Others
What are You Saying When You Walk into a Room?
You may think you’re not saying anything until you open your mouth. So NOT true! The moment you “present” yourself to others you have already spoken volumes. Do you have any idea what your personal presence is saying? Did you know that what we say or the content of our conversations makes up only about 7% of our communication? The remainder is what people see, sense, and hear. It is your presence.
If you don’t take time to read this entire blog, please take away this one thought. You are always influencing. Your very presence exerts influence. You can choose to be proactively aware of how you want to show up and use it. Or you can be passive and reactive in your approach and hope it works out.
It is not at all random that I developed the concept of Active Influence. By its simplest definition it’s an awareness tool that is integrated with intentional, specific behaviors and practices. It came about organically after thousands of hours of coaching people to meet their full potential and achieve new possibilities. If you’re curious and would like a more in-depth explanation of Active Influence, click on firstname.lastname@example.org and put ACTIVE INFLUENCE in the subject line .
You are always influencing. Your very presence exerts influence.
In practice, Active Influence becomes a way of being, almost instinctual. It becomes the art and science of living in the now to intentionally influence people, process, and things. Your “stuff” only gets done in the moment…in the NOW. You can plan to do, intend to do, mean to do, strategize a way of doing, etc., but things actually happen in the moment. To achieve the best outcomes, you need to know how to be, moment to moment. Then what you need to do becomes quite clear.
The Value of Presence
Here’s a genericized version of a recent experience I had with a farmer I have coached for several years. It’s a simple and powerful example of “presence.” The dad had worked hard with intention to bring his sons into the business as partners. Like all business partners (and brothers) they were having a bad day that turned into a bad week. The result was that a dysfunctional relationship started to emerge. My client (dad) shared with me that one son asked for a meeting with a special request for dad to attend. He questioned if it would be better that he did not attend, but both sons resoundingly said if he wasn’t present one of them might just get frustrated and leave.
He showed up for the meeting but didn’t say anything or step into the mix — he supported his sons by just showing up for them. That shifted things in a big way in that moment. Dad provided the steadying presence and quiet confidence that his sons needed to figure things out on their own, and they did. My client has done a lot of other great things to get his sons into the business, and all have required him to be fully present with them as they work together.
Think about someone you know who has a strong presence. You can “feel” when they walk into a room and how their presence shifts things. Now think about how your own mood or thoughts changed because of that person’s presence. Your mood could be negatively or positively impacted just by them being there. Do you realize that you have the same impact on people?
We’ve all been around “Debbie downers” — and also been around those special folks who have a level of energy so high it’s infectious. Around them we feel revitalized and ready to go! As human beings we automatically pick up on presence and it influences us both physiologically and emotionally. It may be in a positive or negative way — but it undeniably creates a reaction in us.
Think about how your mood or thoughts may change as a result of a specific person’s presence.
Who’s Showing Up Today?
How does it feel for you when you’re in conversation with someone who’s presence indicates they’re “not all there” with you? What gives you that feeling?
What you feel is the result of how that person showed up to you on that day at that exact time. It was how they were Being. Our Being should inform what we are Doing.
When preparing for a team meeting, or a presentation or a conversation have you ever paused and thought “Who do I want to be for this team/group/person right now?” It’s a whole different level of awareness – it’s not about content, or style, or even confidence – it’s about the role you need to assume. And it’s informed by your values. Additionally, each situation influences the “being” decision as it presents itself at that time. If we don’t have clarity from this question, we can’t have a breakthrough choice to take a risk and stretch ourselves beyond what we might do by default or what is most comfortable.
“Who do I want to be for this team/group/person right now?”
If all this got you thinking carefully about how you are showing up, that’s great! That’s awareness – and nothing changes without it.
What sort of situations do you consistently find yourself in and with whom? Do you know what your role should be for them at that time? If you read my post last month you learned the term “role agility.” In short it means that to influence others effectively you will need to role shift constantly. At times you will lead, at other times you may be supervising, or coaching, or facilitating, or managing. This is what leads to Active Influence.
Active Influence positions you to “be” precisely what you need to be at any given time to achieve the goal at hand. It is at its root about being more conscious with your role. You apply yourself appropriately based solely on that thing, person or situation that needs your priority focus in that moment. This creates a greater possibility that you can influence outcomes in the way that brings the most value to everyone involved.
Your values lay the groundwork for how you influence. Simply, these core principles guide your actions when you need to make difficult decisions without a promise of success. Values will cost us something if they are true principles that guide our work and life’s biggest decisions. Does your presence communicate your values?
Does your presence communicate your values?
It’s what is happening at this exact time that requires you to assume a specific role. Engagement that is informed by the appropriate values increases your ability to actively influence the best possible outcome. Remember, what you valued when you started your business or career may no longer be the driver for you. Living in the now with your current situation brings the relevance and urgency for what needs your focus. It is the context that should empower you to make meaningful change.
What is Your Presence Telling Others?
Now I’d like you to ask yourself the same question I posed in the beginning of this post — what are you saying when you walk into a room? Remember, you are speaking volumes – be conscious and intentional about what your presence is telling others and how you are influencing them.