I have been so inspired recently reading Presence by Amy Cuddy, an internationally renowned American academic and social psychologist. So much of what she says resonates with me personally and consequently goes to the very heart of my approach to personal development coaching, specifically in relation to communication.
Working with our clients, we spend a lot of time discussing how to make an emotional connection in communication. We explore why, all to often, people make a clear distinction between the person they are at home and the one they allow themself to show at work. We all employ different skills and traits in these two environments of course. But why do we make a conscious choice not to show our working colleagues who we really are and more importantly, show yourself who you really are. Why limit yourself in this way?
In her illuminating book, Cuddy says that presence is ‘the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values and potential’. She goes on, ‘it is not a permanent, transcendent mode of being. It comes and goes. It is a moment-to-moment phenomenon’.
Cuddy asserts ‘Presence is about everyday. It’s even, dare I say, ordinary. We can all do it; most of us just don’t know yet how to summon that presence when it escapes us at life’s most critical moments’. She asks ‘Can presence help you to become more successful in the traditional sense? Quite possibly. But what matters more is that it will allow you to approach stressful situations without anxiety, fear and dread and leave them with regret, doubt and frustration. That you accurately and fully represented yourself and your abilities. That you showed them who you really are. That you showed yourself who you really are’.
In our workshops, we pose many rhetorical questions, as well as some that require answers! Delegates get opportunities to practice making an emotional connection and displaying what we refer to as their ‘human element’. We do not attempt to cover presence in the detail that Amy Cuddy does in her book, but just thinking about how much presence you feel you have or display in any given situation can be highly empowering.
I urge you to consider your response to the question in the title.