II. How to Elevate People’s Perceptions
This is the second of a four part series on elevating your status with others. It focuses on the research, perspective, and skill one must develop to assert yourself without being overbearing or intimidating.
In How to Make the Connection we discussed the particulars of engaging with a new individual, presenting your strongest self, and listening. This is the first step to join a new circle and advance your career.
Once you’ve started a conversation, or are able to have a follow-up, you must work to elevate people’s perception of you.
Reacting to body language is the most important and most ignored asset we all have. If you feel uncomfortable, you will make others uncomfortable. If you remain calm and focused, then you learn very quickly whether you can get along with someone new. It’s key to understand this, because the more you invest in yourself, in whatever way or manner works for you, the better prepared you are not only for success, but also for its inevitable challenges. It starts with both reading another’s body language, and learning what it takes to make them more comfortable with you.
The last thing anyone needs is to be around someone who is nervous, uncomfortable, and unwilling to step forward to help during intense projects and activity. When we freeze, our individuality, our personality disappears, and we become another “casualty” in a long list of people not suited for the position(s) they thought they should have.
Case in point—everyone believes they can be a movie star if someone “only” saw them for who they are.
When you have ambition, you should never look past the person you are with to others “above or more important than them,”--you must exist fully in the moment with whomever you are engaged in and bring them into your court. Their perception of you will become elevated when they begin to understand that you not only have their back, but that by having you as part of their team, they become part of yours.
After you’ve established a relationship, which is based on similar viewpoints, body language, and often something in common not directly related to the task at hand (such as your kids both hate “Elmo” for no reason, or you grew up loving the Green Bay Packers, etc), you must now nurture this relationship carefully.
Think of our circles of connections with an even bit of space within every circle, and each circle gets smaller and smaller as you get towards the center. While we are capable of having multiple types of relationships, there is only so much time, and therefore room, for someone in your inner circles. Remember that as you gain power, someone else loses it. There is only so much to go around.
To Elevate People’s Perceptions, you have to:
*Research and understand the project and the people. You can’t go in blind and hope your instincts and experience are all you need. Research involves a focus on what you know about them that matches what they can learn about you.
*Balance the personal and professional. The more “inner” the circle, the more life and work are tied together.
*Be able to shift your role as those “above you” in the hierarchy adapt themselves to the task. You will not always be the most needed, but if you wait on the sidelines to be “called” you may be forgotten. Show yourself as modestly Eager and Accepting.
*Take a breath, and pay attention to how people react to you when they are stressed, angry, sad, or exhibit any other negative emotion. If you feed that negativity, you have to work on negating/mitigating it, as only by diffusing it can you help them move forward with you.
*Time things right, though you can’t be afraid of having strong opinions, you must find the right moments to express them. You aren’t part of the conversation yet, but you’ve been added to the team. Don’t ignore the people around you.
At a private event years ago, I had hoped to meet a famous musician who was talking about a new type of drink he was endorsing. There were only 30 people in the room, but it was impossible to get a word in. My wife and I stood to the side, and instead of ignoring the woman next to us, we struck up a conversation for about 45 minutes about the arts and culture around the world, and how different North and South America were. She turned out to be the sister of the rock star, and after everyone else left, we were able to have a proper introduction.