Stop Draining Your People and Energize Them Instead!
Ever had that nagging concern about how others feel about you? Are they looking up to you as their leader? Do they feel good about you as their leader?
But guess what? How others feel about you is irrelevant. What truly matters is how people feel about themselves when they’re around you. When they interact with you, do they feel better or worse?
The way we make others feel in our presence is a valuable leadership skill. In the realm of psychology, it’s termed “affective presence.” Leaders with a positive affective presence show they care and are skilled at connecting with those around them. So, how about you?
Let’s take a closer look on the concept of affective presence, its significance, and strategies for developing a positive affective presence to catalyze your leadership influence. Shall we?
affective presence - what?
The concept of “affective presence” was coined by psychologists N. Eisenkraft and H. Elfenbein in a study from 2010. They uncovered that some individuals exude an emotional influence that can either comfort or unsettle others. In simpler terms, affective presence is the emotional trail we leave on others through our mere presence… no matter of our own emotions or intentions. It’s an overall, lasting effect we leave on others.
Notably, there are both positive and negative affective presences. For instance, one may inspire excitement in the people around them, tends to cause their peers to feel anxious. In other words: one typically energizes people, while the other stresses them out!
This concept is tightly linked to one’s ability to manage and communicate emotions effectively. (When investigating what distinguishes people who elicit a more positive or negative affect on others, researchers point to differences in expressive styles, such as aggressive and competitive versus kind and warm.)
4 reasons why affective presence is important
Eisenkraft’s & Elfenebin’s study (among other researchers) suggests that affective presence can have significant social consequences:
- People who elicit positive affect are more popular among their peers. Conversely, individuals who evoke negative emotions in their colleagues are more likely to be the target of counderproduvtive workplace behaviors, such as rudeness and taunting.
- Leaders who make other people feel good by their presence have teams that are better at sharing informations, which leads to more innovation! Team leaders with a negative affective presence have the opposite effect on their teams’ information sharing and innovation.
- Similiar, a different study also found that leaders with a positive affective presence encourage teams to communicate their create ideas. Especially, when a team leader had a higher positive affective presence, withholding of ideas was less likely in meetings where team members generated creative ideas.
- Leaders’ positive affective presence boosts the motivation and performance of hospitality service employees, who often work long hours with low pay and tight schedules, which can result in burnout. Service employees must posses high energy and enthusiasm to present customers with a friendly and welcoming demeanor. In this environment, the study says, “leader’s positive affective presence sends an important signal that leaders care about their employees’ wellbeing and acts as fuel to fire employees’ energy towar work”
How to strengthen your positive affective presence
Let’s face it… a positive or negative affective presence means you impact those in your presence. Cultivating a positive affective presence requires a deliberate and conscious decision to interact with others in a positive manner…. it’s a choice we must make daily until it becomes part of who we are and how we present ourselves. You see? A positive affective Presence is a habit, not rocket science!
3 strategies for creating a positive affective presence:
1. Develop self-awareness
- Understand your emotional triggers. What sets you off (emotionally)? Who are the people who get “under your skin”? These situations or people might cause you to have a negative affective presence.
- Don’t surpress your emotions or deny the factors or people contributing to them. Instead, reflect on your emotions and think about how you wanna manage those emotions before expressing them to others.
- Pay attention to your emotions and your reactions. Observe and manage them (e.g.: do you ever notice yourself becoming combative/ annoyed/ angry/ competitive ?) Awareness will help you manage these reactions more effectively, so you don’t act impulsively.
2. Tune in to others
While self-awareness is crucial, understanding how your emotions, moods and behaviors impact others is equally vital: For example, before an important meeting, ask yourself:
- What might people need from you in the moment? Perhaps they need support or reassurance during a corporate transition. Or they need a safe and non-judgmental environment to express their anxieties or dissatisfaction without concern for rebuke or rejection.
- What impact do you want to make on others when you enter the room? Most people are quick to pick an emotional cues that might effect them. Don’t leave this to chance by deciding how you want to show up.
- What is the emotional “footprint” you are hoping to leave behind? Whatever feeling you want to instill in others, you need to feel it yourself. For example, you must project calmness yourself if you want people to feel that way.
3. Exercise Self-discipline
How do you feel about the people you are interacting with? People have a knack for sensing your thoughts about them and will respond accordingly.
- Shift your frame of mind about people you’re meeting, focus on the positive qualities you may value in them and any positive experiences you’ve had with them.
- But most of all, take the high road and treat people with respect! Research shows that being treated with respect is fostering positive feelings.
- You may experience instance of irritations, frustration or impatience throughout the day. The question is, says Elfenbein in an interview with J.Beck “ Can you regulate yourself so those blips don’t infect other people? Can you smooth over the noice in your life so other people aren’t affected?“ In short… ARE YOU GOOD COMPANY?
The Journey to Positive Affective Presence
Imagine a coworker who remains composed during stressful situations. They defuse tension, create a positive environment, and are sought after for their calming presence. As you cultivate a positive affective presence, consider the enduring relationships you’ll build.
Now, it’s your turn! How do you infuse authenticity and depth into your interactions? Your wisdom is invaluable – share your thoughts, experiences, and reflections in the comments below!