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You Are Who You Are…But You Don’t Always Have to Be

For leaders (or anyone, for that matter), a little self-analysis is important. How are you projecting to others?

If you’ve ever been in a meeting where there is that one person who just sucks the life out of the room, this article is for you. Consider it a catharsis…or perhaps an opportunity for self-reflection.

This person is generally the one bringing a negative energy to the meeting. Instead of advancing the ideas and discussions at the table, they are the ones who tell you why everything being discussed can’t be done, instead of collaboratively exploring solutions as to how it can be done. They are the ones who summarily dismiss or shoot-down every new idea that was not originated from them.

This leads to not only a non-productive meeting, but it produces frustration and negativity in the other participants. People will mentally “check out” of the meeting, and potentially good ideas will get lost. This feeling will carry out of the meeting, and result in an apathetic workplace environment, where the general feeling is, “I really don’t matter, so why should I even try?”

To be an effective leader (or meeting participant, for that matter), you don’t always have to be the “Alpha.” The most effective collaborations occur when you just sit back and listen more than you speak. People sometimes instinctively feel the need to knee-jerk respond to things, rather than open-mindedly take ideas away and truly consider them.

Being self-aware of the energy that you bring to a meeting (or any situation), is important. But there are other things of which you should be aware.

Here are some tips:

  • Understand that self-awareness is not just all about you; it’s knowing how your energy affects others;

  • Don’t assume you know how others perceive you. What you think you’re projecting isn’t necessarily aligned with the perceptions of others. Seek input, and use that information to become more mindful of your own behavior;

  • Realize that your energy sets the tone for the meeting to follow; try positive and enthusiastic language and behavior;

  • Observe and listen before you respond. You don’t have to do a tennis-match “point/counterpoint;” be genuinely curious, and ask questions instead of instinctively issuing statements and opinions;

  • Check yourself before a meeting and make sure you’re in the right state of mind to genuinely collaborate.

When you master your self-awareness and energy and their impact on others, you’ll enhance your communication and relationships, becoming a more effective and successful leader and/or team member. Being able to adapt to others, in different situations, is key.


Diane Boulanger is an international communications expert who works with Standish on business communication initiatives.

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