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How many times has the voice of hindsight told us we could have achieved a better outcome from a meeting or event if only we had proved able to communicate more effectively?
Our ability as communicators to always lead with our strongest suit – ensuring that what we have to say and the way we say it are well aligned with the circumstances – is a natural leadership skill. Yet for almost everyone, the only guide is trial and error, sometimes prompting that nagging voice of hindsight.
For a lucky few, the ability to “switch on” maximum energy and naturally break down barriers to credibility when they speak, is a key part of what we know as charisma. Whether they’re applying ‘le mot juste’ or encapsulating the situation with a fitting gesture, charismatic types tend to get their way by using the right skill at the right moment.
So, what if we too could acquire the habit of matching our communication skills to the circumstances time after time, in order to eliminate wasted energy and misunderstandings?
A quick scan of the people we know is enough to confirm that charisma is unevenly distributed, both in terms of type and overall energy.
It’s a common misconception that charismatic people must always be sunny, cooperative and engaging. Far from it. Sometimes a mysterious aloofness, reluctance to ingratiate or to be flattered, and even a stubborn refusal to go along with the majority, betokens charisma by the bucketload.
So when it comes to charisma, there is no “have or have-not.” Instead it’s a matter of understanding what charisma assets we possesses and using them to best advantage. Knowing which attributes we major in, when to use them – and when not to draw attention to areas where we are challenged – underlies the Communicate Charisma approach.
For example, there’s a broad division between those who use collaborative social skills to get their way, and those who depend on vigour and dynamism to win agreement. Members of the group with high levels of natural empathy are more likely to be challenged if they try adopting a persuasive or rhetorical tone. Conversely, strong persuaders aren’t always the most naturally gifted at forging a natural consensus.
Readers of this column who’ve already completed their Communicate Charisma Self-Assessment test, were previously promised some tips on interpreting their results. Before we start, it’s important to restate there is no “right or wrong” about charisma. And above all – this is an analysis of communication skills, nothing more (or less).
Note: If you haven’t yet explored teh site this could be the ideal time to take your own self-assessment test … if you’re curious. Just click here.
We’re all unique, and so is the energy we dedicate to communicating. By exploring our own 2D Charisma Projection Profile and our 7D Charisma Essence Profile, we can pinpoint where those energies are located, and start developing useful habits based on this new knowledge.
The simplest way of describing this is to analyse a Self-Assessment result. So here goes with the test completed on 10th October 2013. When I identify the person later on you’ll see why I haven’t infringed upon the confidential nature of the online test.
First up, a very quick overview of this 7D Charisma Essence Profile on the multi-coloured wheel shows the person’s energies are quite unevenly distributed, emphasizing his or her assertive rather than collaborative nature.
In fact the highest energy attributes are Self-Assurance, Drive and Vision. Conversely the lowest energy attributes are Empathy and Collaboration.
So, if we’re to follow the principle of “leading with the strongest suit,” then Drive, Vision and Self-Assurance all suggest a person happiest when arguing a case. Conversely, we can suppose that this person’s comfort zone is less likely to be in the realm of sensitivity to group dynamics or fostering of consensus. So the voice of hindsight might suggest this person is less well-suited to situations calling for humility.
In terms of Drive, this person has a ‘Forceful’ personality with an unbounded, restless enthusiasm that translates into achieving goals and pushing others further. Of course there are limitations association with such energy. To others this may appear selfish, with limited listening skills.
While the energy associated with Drive is high (Level 5), the range is narrow. This indicates a default communication style that’s used repeatedly. However such a vigorous and sometimes abrasive approach implies natural limits to getting one’s views across without alienating others.
The mood music from this person involve might him (or her) telling others “It’s either my way, or the highway.”
Similarly this person’s Self-Assurance (Level 4) shows him or her to be an ‘Assertive’ personality. This type confidently requests others to acknowledge ideas and beliefs being expressed, and to accept offered points of view. Once again, the range is narrow, suggesting that commanding attention, rather than listening, is this person’s default.
The lowest energy level is in the Empathy dimension (Level 2), where person is characterised as ‘Insensitive’, not willing to prioritize the goals or communications needs of others. However, a broad range indicates potential for much greater receptiveness and engagement.
In terms of Collaboration (energy level 2) this person’s type is ‘Aloof’ with a limited receptivity to community dynamics. Such a person might be less open to requests to renegotiate personal projects in order to satisfy group needs. When it comes to “selling” an idea, this person would be advised to use other more energetic attributes to get ideas across.
On the 2D Projection profile we see this person’s energies are, perhaps predictably, concentrated in the top left hand corner of the table, in the zone defined as “Evangelist.”
In terms of audience projection (the vertical axis) this person’s type is “performer” at home with larger groups, while on the horizontal axis (ranging between persuasion and empathy) the emphasis is strongly persuasive and the type is “influencer.” By contrast the zones defined as “confidante,” and “influencer” are less emphasized.
This suggests this person’s comfort zone might not favour flexibility or compromise. Overall, having strong argumentative skills and the profile of an energetic and persistent recruiter means this person generally has a sense of being in the right.
If you took the self-assessment test, you’ll recall there are three questions that your answer by selecting words. The three questions ask you about the way you project yourself, the way you think you’re perceived, and the internal “real you.” The variation between these responses suggests oportnities for growth, or perhaps a reminder of the need for greater consistency. As you can see from the the three 2D projection images, there is very liuttle variance between the blue disc (Projected Profile), the green (Perceived Profile) and the pink (Internal Profile.) This person – faults and all – is consistent.
While this profile suggests an energetic and outspoken person able to make strong contributions to group leadership, I think you can guess he or she might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As such, he or she can certainly use charisma strengths when the spotlights and microphones are turned on. But when agreements are being thrashed out backstage, these same attributes might be a handicap.
For the person we’re describing, “showing the strongest suit” might not always be effective, and it’s likely that person will have learned strategies to come across as a less abrasive, and more deferential communicator. In fact, it’s likely that this person would have had to work hard with softening a rigid and perhaps even inflated posture (both psychologically and physically), to show a more receptive and porous profile likely to value feminine attributes.
Next time we’ll dig down into the 7D and 2D Profiles to find out more about this person’s communications style and how it might evolve. I’ll also tell you who this person is.