Do you ever stop to think about the effect your demeanor and your physical presence has on others?
Some lessons I learned for business and life came from my ballroom dance lessons including the one that answers that question.
I started the lessons with a history of being a serious non-dancer. I was uncomfortable on the dance floor and the phrase “two left feet” came into being to describe me as did the term “wallflower” during my teen years. However, in my fourth decade I got hooked on ballroom dancing and never considered stopping until I broke my foot 15 years later. Another story.
In the beginning as a non-dancer, I lacked awareness not just about how to dance, but about my physical presence. Having never been into sports, ever, and finding every excuse not to be, I tried various programs because it was “the thing” to do to stay healthy and fit.
Having tried yoga, jazzersize, stretching, bought a stationery bike, a treadmill, and weight lifting, and didn’t stick with any of them for very long. Then I discovered ballroom dancing and became totally addicted to it.
I lucked out with an excellent teacher who expected excellence from his students. One of the first things Jerry taught me was when his hand extended to invite me to dance, was to pay attention to how I was approaching him. I was like a bulldozer bumping into his chest and almost knocking him over rather than gracefully inserting myself into his appropriately positioned arms.
He told me that a lot of women do this unwittingly and by pointing it out he was choosing to protect himself from the impact. Until that lesson, I clearly didn’t have a moment’s thought about how my movement was affecting him.
So here’s the lesson for business and life in general. Do you pay attention or think about how your behavior, your presence, your demeanor affects the other person?
Do you pay attention to how others react to you? How is your handshake? Do you focus on talking about yourself? Could you be seen as overbearing or are you hardly noticed? Do you push a business card in someone’s hand without asking if they want it? Do you stand too close, too far? Do you ask about them and show interest when they tell you? Is the tone of your voice too loud, too low? Do you interrupt? Do you listen well without thinking about making the sale? Do you care about the person? Do you know how to show it?
As a coach that specializes in relationships in business, I sometimes see in the marketing material or websites of some businesses that the focus is on themselves and not on the people they would like to serve.
On the other hand, there are websites that don’t even mention the name of the owner, let alone something about who they are, their values or mission in offering their product or service. All of this makes an unspoken impression and not necessarily the one you want.
There are so many times each day when our presence affects someone else. Become aware of them by noticing examples as you go through your day. Check to see if you gracefully insert yourself or are you a bulldozer. Bonus: if you apply this in your personal life, your relationships will improve.
By the way, I had reached gold level in some dances before I broke my foot. So those early years of my not believing that I could be a dancer was very wrong. That’s another story.
I love to receive your comments and questions, but please don’t call me when Dancing With The Stars is on TV!