I’m trying to change the language that I use. It’s been an uphill process. All right, maybe you need a little of the backstory. A few months ago a colleague and I had a difference of opinion (notice I didn’t say disagreement?) about a business project. Somehow during that conversation she shared with me that I sounded disgruntled. It was like a slap in the face and my immediate reaction (internally) was denial. I’m not feeling disgruntled. Why would she say that? This is more about her than about me. When the sting started to fade I was able to consider the comment a little more constructively. What did I do that might cause her to see me that way? I came to a realization that the language (words) I often use and the focus of my casual conversation (problems, challenges and personal disasters) might be contributing.
I was reading an article – interview really – in the March HBR about Charisma and it got me thinking. The interview was with William von Hippel who, along with his colleagues, published the results of their study on thinking speed and Charisma. Their research seems to indicate that people who think quickly are perceived as more charismatic, independent of their IQ or other personality traits.
Well crap! That’s not what I want to hear. I am many things, but quick thinking? I think not. I’m great at Trivial Pursuit or even “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, but nobody in my family wants me on their team for Celebrity Name Game or Pictionary. Does that mean that my dream of being charismatic – or at least more charismatic – is doomed to failure? People with higher levels of Charisma get noticed and listened to. They’re more influential. I’d like that, wouldn’t you?