How to Have a Strong Personality without Coming on Too Strong

Do you have a strong personality and been told you come on too strong? If so, I bet you are someone who gets results and goes the extra mile. The Problem? You get to the answer much quicker than other people. Other people frustrate you. And then you have a frustrated tone. You get controlling.

You’ve probably been given feedback about it. (And if you are a woman, you feel in a struggle around how to come across as “confident”, but NOT “arrogant” or “strident”.)

Do you ever wish you knew: “how do I make other people accountable and WANT to do better work? And how do I stay calm instead of reacting to them?”

Here are two strategies to get you started…

1. Shift from “doing tasks” to “doing people”

In every communication there are two levels: the level of the “Content” (the information, your request) and the level of the “Process” (how the person feels in the relationship with you).

Which level do you pay the most attention to? Probably the “Content”, the point you want to make.

Which level do most people pay attention to first? How they feel in the relationship with you.

People ONLY listen to your information and requests once they feel comfortable and respected in the relationship with you. Feeling dismissed causes stress and constricts listening. Say things with an intent to preserve other’s self-esteem and people will be motivated to do what you ask.

Whenever possible, try to ‘make people right’ instead of making them wrong. Build on their ideas instead of tear them down.

(I know you: I’m not asking you to do this to be “nice”! Do it because it increases their follow through. Just like our stomachs absorb aspirin better when it has enteric coating around it.)

2. Shift from controlling to collaborative and get better results

Your judgment about people who don’t have your standard of excellence sets up your tone. See if you relate to my client’s situation: “The compliance people in my company said they couldn’t give me the waiver I needed to grow the business. I got frustrated and told them they needed to find a solution.” (Then my manager told me I needed to deal with the situation better!)

Here are a few excerpts from our coaching session about it…

Me: When the lawyers said they couldn’t give you the waiver you needed to grow the business, what was your explanation of why they did that?

Client: They are lazy….

Me: And what does that mean about you?

Client: About me?? Well…they were setting me up to do a bad job.

Bingo! That’s why you get frustrated. A confidence concern gets activated. Your dedication to doing things right feels threatened. You think failure will be YOUR fault. So you try to regain some control.

Here’s how she worked it out by the end of our session. Notice she changed her “story”:

Client: “I now see that maybe it’s not that they are stupid, it’s just that they didn’t know how to do the ‘out of the box’ waiver I asked for.”

“Instead of controlling, I want to show up like a “pilot” who is in calm and in control of herself – then guide people through the stormy part of the skies…”

Next time she gets frustrated because she sees people as ‘lazy’, she will instead ask structuring questions that help them tap their problem solving and bring others along to catch up to her thinking.

What are your best ways of having a strong personality without coming on too strong?

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