I love “The most interesting man in the world” commercials. Like —
“He would not be afraid to show his feminine side – if he had one.”
“His mother has a tattoo that reads…”Son’”.
“At museums he’s allowed to touch the art.”
“There is a place in Siberia which, to this day, remains unfrozen because he once camped there.”
“He’s the most interesting man in the world!”
What makes people interesting? Those with presence seem to create a halo effect around themselves. There’s a sense of passion, confidence, enthusiasm, authenticity, captivation, and comfortableness about them. So we say, “They have presence.”
In reality, these ladies and gentlemen have developed 5 habits that make both introverts and extroverts interesting. Try these:
- Ditch the dominance demeanor. We were taught to shake with a firm hand and stand tall. But playing the gorilla (they come in both genders), is stepping over the line. Overdone nonverbal confidence makes the engagement all about you –which counter intuitively makes you uninteresting. Avoid the power poses. Put aside the posture of self-importance or status.
- Make the encounter about them. Practice the art of getting them to talk about themselves. Use your curiosity, politeness, and social graces to cast a “spell” over them. Ask how they did it, or what they learned about it, or what advice they’d give you in a similar situation. When you respect another person’s opinion, you are respecting the other person.
- Be real. Don’t get involved in a “stature” contest. Nobody wins in the long run – or even in the short run. Be impressed. Compliment in a genuine manner. When you hear an accomplishment, say “that’s awesome”. Ask, “how did you pull that off?” Let your vulnerability show through. “I’ve never thought of that”, or, “you just taught me something.” People are temporarily impressed with the artificial, but sincerely like the authentic.
- Give more than you get. Don’t underestimate the value of asking for nothing. People know when you are playing the networking card. The hard charging, always-on-kind-of-person creates a desire to look for the exit routes. If you need something, give something first. The most interesting people focus on what they can do for you. People are tuned into station WIIFM (what’s in it for me)? Kicking into your sales pitch can communicate you are bored with their presence. And that does nothing for your “presence.”
- Make a great “last” impression. Don’t just end with “nice to meet you.” That doesn’t leave much of an impression and it’s easily forgettable. Go back to the beginning. Shake hands and say, “I really enjoyed talking with you.” Make eye contact with a genuine smile. Self-promotion takes very little self-awareness. Being interesting and having a sense of presence is built on self-awareness. Be self-aware, not self-absorbed.
Effective managers, supervisors, and people in general, have this sense of presence. When having a one-on-one work on these 5 habits. If it’s a direct report, let them tell you what’s going well. Find out where they are challenged (sometimes called “venting”). Ask them where they need your support. Make sure they need it – no micromanaging. When finished, thank them for their time.
Good managers, mentors, and mutual acquaintances (1) ditch the dominance platform, (2) make it about the other person, (3) are real, (4) give more than they get, and (5) make a great last impression.
Charisma and presence is not something you have. It’s something you develop. It’s a skill. And since repetition is the mother of skill, it starts with your habits.