December 6, 2010

The power of presence



There's a fascinating guest post on Tim Ferriss' blog by Michael Ellsberg, about Bill Clinton's "Reality Distortion Field" (RDF) —- "an aura of charisma, confidence, and persuasion." Specifically, the article is about the power of appropriate and well-practiced eye contact, the use of personal space, and the practice of being present in developing a charismatic and influential personality.

Here's an excerpt:

"You’ve probably experienced bosses or strangers 'get up in your face,' and it feels very unpleasant. Bill Clinton and others with RDFs are experts at getting close to you while making you feel totally safe and comfortable. This increases feelings of intimacy, trust, and affinity.

How do they do it? They have mastered the subtle art of personal space. First written about in-depth by anthropologist Edward Hall, our sense of “personal space” is the feeling we get of being 'invaded' when someone steps too close.

Interestingly, our sense of personal space is not a pure function of physical proximity; many other psychological factors influence it. In general, your sense of physical proximity with someone increases when they are:

- Making direct eye contact with you
- Facing you directly (as opposed to standing side-by-side looking into the crowd)
- Touching you (i.e., rubbing elbows in a crowd, patting your back, touching your arm or shoulder)
- Raising their voice
- Talking about you (as opposed to a neutral subject)

If a stranger starts doing too many of these at once, your personal space begins to feel violated, and you start having that icky 'eww get away from me!' feeling we’ve all experienced with unwelcome conversations at parties.

In contrast, if you learn to modulate these five different factors, and combine them in different ways, you can make your conversation partners feel safe and comfortable while at the same time feeling close and intimate with you."

Get over to Tim Ferriss' blog and find out how you can make people feel like you're the only two people in the room!

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Charlie Wilson said...

I am a Distinguished Toastmaster and was a finalist in the 2008 World Championship of Public Speaking. I have reviewed your excellent blog for some time. This particular post was of interest to me as I am writing a book on the psychology of public speaking and am asking visitors to my blog at www.charliewilsonphd.com to comment on the chapters as they are written. I am including your blog on my links page.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your note, Charlie. I'm unable to access your website. Can you send me a direct link to your blog?

Carolyn Newstrom said...

I enjoyed reading the great blog post by Tim Ferriss. Thanks for hooking us up with that, Lisa. I've already referred several of my family members to that article as well. Good stuff! Not to be missed!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Glad you liked it, Carolyn!

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