“It Is Not Enough To Conquer One Must Know How To Seduce” Voltaire
What do a beautiful woman, a burly biker, and a Supreme Court justice all have in common? Well, for one thing, the potential to be intimidating. You may be surprised to learn that intimidation is a double-edged sword.
For an athlete, intimidation is a sought-after tool used to gain advantage over an opponent. However, some people are simply intimidating because they possess an incredibly strong will. That would be me. I used to receive consistent feedback that I was intimidating. I would walk into the office and people would scurry. There is a famous saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” My saying was, “If you hold the horse’s head down long enough, you can force him to take a drink.”
One day it dawned on me that my intimidation tactic was not very strategic. I thought that strategy was for the other guys, the ones who were going to have to deal with me while I forged straight ahead. However, as a strong businesswoman, I’ve since learned that the price paid for winning by force and intimidation can be steep. I fought every battle as a singular unit; I would win one battle only to be forced to fight another. I missed out on numerous opportunities to enlist others in my struggles, and I chose to solve my problems alone when I didn’t need to.
This tactic stopped working for me when I began taking Voltaire’s words to heart. The French philosopher had said, “It is not enough to conquer, one must know how to seduce.” I now value charisma over intimidation, inclusion over isolation, and democracy over dictatorship.
Charismatic and intimidating people share some similar characteristics such as confidence, self- awareness, and a strong body presence. However, whereas charismatic people are present in the moment and invite people in using eye contact, people who use intimidation are dismissive and arrogant, and they shut people out by putting up a wall. Once you become aware of how you appear, you have the choice to manifest what you project. Being charismatic means being a leader and a designer of mood. To choose charisma, begin with a mood that recognizes, values, and affects the moods of others.
Just as intimidation repels intimacy, charisma attracts loyalty. In business and elsewhere in life, those who are legitimately successful and well-rounded are people who engender charisma. The development of a thriving company, community, or nation always includes healthy doses of charisma. Therefore, these days, when I notice that someone feels intimidated by my presence, I realize that I have the ability to change the dynamic.
As a leader, I now choose to adjust my presence and change the mood of those around me.
Next time you come across an intimidator, you’ll know that what you’re looking at is someone who only has the leverage to bulldoze a narrow path. You may not even notice the next intimidator you come across, but he or she will notice you—the one with the undeniable charisma.
In life, it’s important to recognize the line between being a charismatic leader, and an intimidating force of will. When you open up to people and develop a sense of loyalty, rather than shut them out by trampling them with intimidation, you will become a more effective leader, coworker, and individual. When you feel that you are becoming an intimidating presence to those around you, adjust your mood, change the dynamic, and allow yourself to become more successful and well rounded.