Is charisma always highly-charged behavior that draws immediate attention, or is there another way to achieve that special “glow” that draws people, warrants admiration, and results in a tribe of loyal supporters?
Quiet people everywhere, who often feel they are living on the fringes of society, want to know. It’s not that introverts want to be the center of attention: far from it, they actually cringe from that position.
Over the years, I have observed quiet people who had a tremendous impact on others. One, a union leader, was so highly esteemed that, even after he retired, he was still influencing the membership. At a meeting, he frequently stood or sat quietly at the back of the room. As debates arose and points were made, heads pivoted as members tried to observe his body language or facial expression in response.
Another example is an introvert entrepreneur, quiet and deep-thinking, who has assembled a large “tribe” of supporters all over the world by using introvert strengths.
Here are some of the skills of these quiet experts who have trodden the path to quiet fame successfully:
Body power trumps voice power:
Good posture and impeccable grooming draw instant respect. Both are worthy of thought and preparation. But they are not enough by themselves.
When these are accompanied by relaxed body language, the effect on observers can be very powerful.
Why? We forget that most, if not all, people come to a social situation still carrying the stress of the work day and of everyday life. When we exhibit tense body language, we only increase the stress of our observer. Tension drives people apart, psychologically as well as physically. Relaxed body language, a kind of hang-loose quality accompanied by good posture, signals low threat, low judgment and high acceptance of another. When you are able to do this, you’ve already won a communication battle neither of you was fully aware you were in.
How to do this? If it is difficult for you to achieve a relaxed body, find a movement class that will help you to explore expressive body movement. Dance, tai chi, yoga … the list is endless. Explore the offerings in your community. If the exercise is aerobic enough to leave you a little euphoric from fatigue, all the better. When you combine the reduction of tension with the satisfaction of having achieved that state, it will greatly enhance the way you present yourself.
One-on-one people skills produce deeper, longer-lasting loyalty than does crowd-pleasing:
Whether you have a new job, are leading a group or team, are a team member, or are simply going to a networking meeting, reaching out to people one at a time is a great way to become a significant member of the group. It’s also the most comfortable way for introverts to relate to others.
Schedule coffee meetings with each of your new colleagues, one at a time. Reach out to team members before a meeting and ask for their opinions and input. Find the list of people who will be attending a networking meeting (often available through the events manager) and email them, saying you’d like to connect with them briefly at the meeting. When you meet with them, use your listening skills to make them feel special.
Once a connection has been made, nurture your relationship. Regularly send “thank you” and seasonal cards, share information, articles and even cartoons you know will interest your contacts. Remember little personal bits of information and write them on business cards (“likes dogs”, “has 2 kids”, “loves to water ski”) that will help you to decide what information or cards will be most appealing.
The thoughtfulness of the introvert, when directed outward, can be a powerful tool in creating a memorable image.
Lynette Crane is an internationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, coach, and author of The Confident Introvert and Quiet Brilliance: Solving Corporate America’s Leadership Crisis with Hiding in Plain Sight Talent.
She was a pioneer in stress management over 40 years ago, having created a college course and corporate training programs, for which she wrote the book. Over the past 40 years she has helped countless people manage their stress successfully.
Now she has amplified the power of her programs with certification as a trainer and coach/mentor from HeartMath Institute™, which has produced over 30 years of research, based on neuropsychology and quantum physics, on the power of the heart-brain connection in helping us manage the stress of our emotional lives effectively.
(This article was updated. Originally posted on 03/09/2018)