Sometimes people think they have presence, when in fact, they are exuding something else entirely: obnoxiousness.
Obnoxiousness is on a spectrum – it can appear in small or medium-sized doses that are totally invisible to you…but loud and clear to others.
No one wants to believe they are obnoxious. Because of this, few people examine their behaviour carefully, often blind to these tendencies.
Years ago, I had a client who saw herself as a born leader. She commandeered every meeting she attended, calling attention to herself in every way possible.
She believed she was entertaining and insightful. But her humor and ‘helpful advice’, were often off pitch, leaving people to feel uneasy and annoyed.
I advised her to view herself through other people’s eyes.
At first, she denied reality. She didn’t want to see herself as over-the-top as others did. But slowly, she began to take notice of the effects she was having on her colleagues. She paid attention to eye contact and body language. She began to read a room.
She adjusted the way she showed up. She began to sit back, take in her environment, and wait to speak when she had something valuable to contribute. She even wrote herself a message in her notebook before every meeting. It said: Why am I talking?
With self-awareness, effort, and perseverance she was able to make a positive turnaround.
So, be brave. Look deeply at yourself. Notice how others respond to you. Is there a chance you’re mistaking obnoxiousness for confidence or presence?
One of the most effective ways to gain self-awareness in this area is to record a video of yourself as you lead a meeting. Of course, you will need to seek permission from your attendees – not doing so would be … obnoxious.
When you watch the video later, pay attention to the non-verbal cues of your audience, and be totally real with yourself. These can be easy habits to adjust when you become aware of them.