Wisdom is in the eyes and ears of the people around you, so to make the right impact with your insights, you need to be able to generate the gravitas that says “my insights are worth noting”. Here are ten ways to do that.
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The aura of gravitas will generate a space around you. You can do a lot to create that. When you are with people imagine your bubble of personal space expanding to twice, three times, ten times the volume of your normal space. As you visualize this it will start to change the subtle cues of your body language and people will respect a greater distance.
Gravitas means not rushing, whether it is in your movement or your speech. A steady, deliberate pace conveys total confidence and, when speaking, it increases your control of your speech and the relaxation of your vocal cords, allowing your voice to stay at the bottom end of its register. Deeper tones convey authority. Keep the volume down too, to make people strain to catch your important ideas and to avoid over-stretching your voice.
Big movements convey charisma, big words convey intellect, big speeches convey status.
Small movements convey economy, small words convey understanding, small speeches convey deep insight.
Wise people do and say little, but what they do and what they say conveys much.
Stillness is a special quality in our frenetic world. Cultivate the ability to be still to make a real contrast with the busy-busy background, and create a powerful impression of weight (the Latin word gravitas means just that).
Smart people dive in with their ideas to ensure that they are heard. Wiser souls wait, observe, then assess and summarize what they have heard, adding their evaluation and insight.
The ultimate in slowing your speech, the linguistic equivalent of still, silence is something few can master. Used at the right time, it can be a devastating contribution to your argument. How much smaller can your contribution be.
Select the timing of your contribution with care. Don’t rush, jump in, or cut someone off. Instead, wait for silence before you speak, so there is only one thing for your audience to listen to.
When you speak to most people you quickly become aware that they have other things on their mind. With some people though, you feel as if there is nothing else in the world for them but you. These people have both charisma and gravitas. Practice paying 100% attention to the person who is speaking.
You won’t always know the answers or have the insight to transform a situation. But what you can always do is put forward a clear process that will help to gather facts, clarify issues, move to a decision. Wisdom is knowing when you don’t know enough and having a way to move onward regardless.
Who sets the tone? Whose demeanor matters? If it’s you, then you really do have gravitas.
Our full course on Gravitas gives you a five-step guide to being sought out, listened to, taken seriously, and trusted by the people around you.
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Gravitas is learnable, and I will show you how, in 20 lectures (c. 1hr).
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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