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Developing Presence and Power

I attended an interesting training today put on by the company Skills To Success. The training was titled “Personal Power & Presence” and featured hands-on coaching on minor behavior adjustments each of us can do for more effective interactions.

The class featured a predator-partner-prey model. A person can be all three in different interactions, but typically has clear tendencies to lean toward one or the other. It’s pretty easy to infer from the names what each of these is. Predator — powerful and dominant, but at the cost of eroding relationships. Prey — nervous, submissive, likable and often talked over. Partners are in a happy place in between both commanding and the “kick me” sign.

Perhaps the most useful part of the class was breaking out into a group of 6 people, and being taped on a DVD while giving a speech. We did three rounds of taping: doing a 3 minute introduction; responding to nonsensical and difficult questions while owning the room and emenating confidence; and a longer session around a specific workplace issue.

What did I learn? Well, I default to prey. Deer in the headlights prey, all the way down to the dropped eyes, decreased volume and hesitant speech in the face of a challenging situation.

Top 5 actions for me to work on:

  • The upward inflection which conveys uncertainty at the end of phrases. There were many moments in which my coach caught me saying phrases as if they are questions. I say “Hello I’m Ada?” instead of “Hello. My name is Ada.”
  • Dropping in qualifiers instead of making statements. “Perhaps the action we should take..” “I would maybe recommend…”
  • The power of pauses between short, incisive sentences.
  • I hold defensive body posture by clasping my hands in front of me.

The power of broad, sweeping arm movements which help illustrate a point. Coordinating these movements to make sense relative to what is being said. It really provides a different perspective to see how other perceive you on video. I’d recommend everyone try to tape themselves, we can all stand to learn from this type of exercise. Another interesting exercise which we talked about but didn’t do is standing in a room full of people and shouting: I OWN THE ROOM! And, quite literally, owning the room. Touching stuff, invading personal space, re-arranging furniture.