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Real Presence, the Foreplay to Real Influence

Before you have real influence on people, it helps to have real presence... So don't leave home without it.

As many of you know, my co-author, Dr. John Ullmen, and I proudly announced the publication of our book: REAL INFLUENCE: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In.  We are pleased to see it being so well received right out of the gate.

We have both been doing many radio and tv interviews and webinars (catch this upcoming FREE live one on 1/16/13 at 12 -1 PM EST/ 9 - 10 AM PST and listen with your teams through the American Management Associaton. 2500 people have pre-registered and they will close registration at: 3200).

With each we explain and also learn more and more about what it takes to have Real Influence.

Something we have noticed about people who have positive influence on us is that they also have real presence when they communicate. In fact that presence often precedes their influence.

Recently we were discussing what real presence is with a group and someone suggested Bill Clinton's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

What we noticed and is something you might want to keep in mind both before and after you meet with people or give talks is that presence seems to have three components that Clinton is a great example of:

  1. Preparation - He has a command of the topic and can make it understandable to nearly everyone in ways that it feels right, makes sense and seems doable. Other politicians, even President Obama at times seem more scripted.
  2. Emotional Presence - People say that one of the consistent characteristics of Clinton is that when you're with him, you feel like you are the only one he is focusing on.  He is not afraid to look into people's eyes and connect with them emotionally. When he says he feels people's pain, he may or may not, but he is certainly not afraid to look into their eyes and see their pain and have people feel him doing that. Other people often seem uncomfortable with this especially if they see upset in others.
  3. Unflappability - After Clinton demonstrates the above and when he is master of the conversation or speech, he certainly appears unflappable.  JFK and Reagan were also masters of this.

If you think the above are not relevent, think of how little confidence we have in people who: instead of being prepared, wing it; instead of being emotionally present, seem disconnected (i.e. Romney) and instead of being unflappable, seem too easily agitated (i.e. John McCain and Hillary Clinton, 2008).

To make the most use of this, each time after you speak to someone or give a talk ask yourself how prepared, emotionally present and unflappable you were and then don't criticize yourself, but think of what you can improve on for the next time.

Reader Comments (2)

The thing I got out of Clinton's speech was that he was 'above it'. He was above the ugliness, the pain, the gridlock. And he was confident in where he was, and wanted to bring us there. The greatest speech he ever gave.

My lesson from your post, as I face a potential new position of leadership, is 'don't wing it'. As much as my knowledge empowers me to lead, I really need to be prepared. That preparation will need to be a vision for the future, instead of a gut feel. Thanks for the clarification.

January 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterDavid Jung


Thank you for a great and helpful comment. I like "being above the ugliness" idea. Too much of the world is mired in transaction myopia, a.k.a. find the deal, do the deal, next deal and win it at all costs and use any tactic you can that stays just this side of illegal. You can even be unethical if it's legal and you're sure we won't get hit with a big fine of end up in jail. That really is ugly.. and heartless.

You're also right about Clinton "being above" (at least in his public persona and we're here not to judge the less than heartfelt parts of his personal life). I think if you can move your conversations and talks to transcending the transactional world you have the chance to transform the world and everyone in it. To do that you need to "dare to care" when everyone tells you you're naive and a fool if you do.

From a realistic, pragmatic point of view that might be true. But imagine a world in which nobody cares. Imagine giving birth to children who will live in a world in which nobody cares.

That is why we started Heartfelt Leadership and thank you David for being a part of it.

January 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterMark Goulston
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