There is a great book written on the subject of how to be more compelling by John Neffinger titled Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential. I think anyone in this business can benefit from learning about this topic, so I decided to provide a quick rundown as to what it means to be compelling and why it is an important strategy for all of us in investor relations and related positions.
Strength and warmth are key attributes that define the quality of our relationships with others. They have archaic roots that date back to our pre-ancestors. These qualities are still highly regarded today, and research suggests we decide the warmth of another person within one-tenth of a second of meeting them.
Warmth is the perception that someone cares for us. They listen, understand, and even empathize with us. We generally distrust people’s motives when they lack warmth. They put us on guard, and we try to avoid them.
Warmth ironically comes from strength. If we feel strong and able to cope, we feel relaxed, and so we naturally tend to express warmth. If we feel threatened, we often withhold warmth.
No amount of faking it will hide how we really feel about a person. If we want to be warm towards someone, we need to focus on what we like about them and attempt to ignore what we do not like.
Strong people exude a sense of inner ability, strength, and confidence. We can be influenced by them and follow them — in fact, they often hold leadership positions. But strength alone is not the key to leadership. When a strong person does not exhibit warmth, we may respect them but dislike or distrust them.
Warmth + Strength
We need both to be effective. Too much strength creates fear, distrust, and separation, while too much warmth creates a perception of weakness. We generally want to show more warmth in social situations and more strength in the workplace.
Three Useful Strategies from ‘Compelling People’
Strategy #1: Be Assertive, but Not Angry
Anger is not an expression of strength, but rather a sign of weakness and loss of control. Assertiveness, on the other hand, is about responding while containing and channeling your emotions.
Strategy #2: Get Tough for the Sake of Others
There are very few instances where anger is condoned; however, it may be appropriate when standing up for others based on values or higher-level principles. In other words, a person is allowed to be tough when it is required for a selfless act.
Strategy #3: Dial Up the Warmth
Our society is increasingly valuing warmth. Neffinger suggests that we need to amp up the opposite force if we want to be effective. For example, if we want to increase our perception of strength, we need to increase our warmth. Strength comes from warmth, and warmth comes from strength.
If we feel strong, we do not feel threatened, which allows us to relax and be warm. Strength comes from confidence in our ability, while warmth helps us connect.
For us to fully engage with others, we need first to be strong inside. There is a great power when both warmth and strength work together. We can create a presence and become more compelling. We have deeper relationships with those around us and achieve much more. This results in a positive upward spiral.
I hope you find this brief explanation and recap helpful. Investor relations is a people business, and these principles apply to all of us who have communication with investors. Whether you are communicating by phone or email, I encourage you to implement these takeaways on a daily basis.
To Your Success,
Director of Investor Relations — Ashcroft Capital
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.