How’s Your Soft Power?
December 28, 2021
We commonly encounter situations where we have to influence others to take some course of action that we desire. How well we get people to do what we want depends on two types of power we exhibit in different settings- Hard and Soft power.
This can also be called positional power. I am the boss; my army is bigger than yours, etc. We display Hard Power when we want people around us to do things they wouldn’t want to do otherwise. They are forced to do what you want them to do because you have the power to make them do it. Hard power always comes through some form of coercion: using force or the threat of force.
In contrast, Soft Power is the ability to persuade others to do what you want without force or coercion through positive influence.
In the current Information Era, Hard Power has only so much impact. The Power of the “Boss” is minimal. Soft power is more effective in influencing behavior and action. The good news is anyone can display soft power. It is not vested only in the “boss.”
Three factors will help anyone command presence and soft power.
It is a normal human tendency. No one wants to follow anyone who is diffident. People always follow those who project confidence. Even if you may not be confident, others will respond to you positively if you pretend you are confident. With confidence, don’t hesitate to fake it if you have to. It has a significant impact on your soft power.
Communicate With Clarity
This is about structuring your message in short, concise phrases and in the form of one, two, or a maximum of three summary messages. When you are unprepared, it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind. But, unfortunately, long-winded messages take away soft power. You command presence and attention when your messaging is crisp and concise. A mentor helped me with a simple technique. Say whatever you want to say with a preface,” I have one/two/three points to make,” and then convey what you have to say. This simple idea forced me to organize my thoughts into key messages.
When you blame, whine and complain, you come across as weak. Whatever the provocation, when you play the victim and hide behind excuses, you give license to others to treat you as if you are not in charge or control. When you take responsibility and accountability, you show others that you have the courage to deal with the consequences and you are not a fair-weather player.
So, in summary, if you want to show up with more soft power, remember to project the 3 C’s- Confidence, Clarity, and Courage.