It’s probably no surprise to you that we most admire those who exude the right balance of strength and warmth, even if the notion runs counter to Machiavelli’s famous view that, “It is better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.”
Like to learn how?
If you’re a woman or non-white this capacity is especially vital according Compelling People co-authors John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. For example, they discovered that Hillary Clinton “has been the butt of more jokes than any other human being, living or dead.”
How Do Leaders Rate on the Warmth/Strength Scale?
Enter the name in the search box. Then you can rate that public figure’s combination of strength and warmth, and also see their overall rating.
Strength: Skill and will
Warmth: Shared concerns or interests
The Same Behaviors Make Men Look Caring And Women Seem Angry
- Often the media exhibits sexism in telling stories according to Joanna Coles, Cosmopolitan‘s editor-in-chief, on Morning Joe. “Male congressmen, male senators are always described as ‘stating’ something in the House. Women senators and congresswomen are always described as ‘complaining.’ Women are emotional; men are somehow stoic,” she said.
- Anger helps men attract people in a room, but often has the opposite effect for women.
- A man is perceive as becoming angry because he cares, while a woman’s anger is seen as a lack of control.
- Women and men project lower status on angry female professionals than on angry male professionals. “Women’s emotional reactions were attributed to internal characteristics (‘she is an angry person,’ or ‘she is out of control’) while men’s emotional reactions were attributed to external circumstances,” according to Yale psychology professor, Victoria Brescoli.
- Men who get angry actually attract more respect, status, better job titles and higher pay. Yet women are more likely to need to look calm to be seen as rational.
“It’s not up to women to conform by replacing strength with warmth, but rather to increase their expression of both,” suggests Neffinger and Kohut. Two positive examples they offer are Ann Richards and Oprah Winfrey.
To spur you to learn how, consider that, “when making judgments about others, people consistently pick up on warmth faster than on competence,” according to a study conducted by the co-authors and Amy J. C. Cuddy.
Tips For Becoming More Compelling
- Before going into a high-stakes situation stand “big” for a couple of minutes, taking up a lot of space. This reduces cortisol and increases testosterone
- Avoid using five body motions “that make you look less warm: leaning away; crossing arms; touching, rubbing or grasping hands together; and touching the face, stomach, or other parts of the body.”
- Imagine holding a beach ball, with your arms somewhat extended, as the authors demonstrate in their video. They believe that the smaller the ball you are holding, the more you look, “subservient, confrontational and closed” which feels intuitively true as you see them demonstrate this exercise. Yet what I can’t help also observing is that their gestures and other movements look slightly robotic and, while they look quite diligent, their faces look more preoccupied than warm. Perhaps they were more focused on doing the demonstration right rather than on the underlying meaning it is meant to represent – an all too human habit that I, too, admit to having sometimes.
- Also, to make it easier for people to literally see you and pay attention longer, without getting distracted, chose as plain a backdrop as you can find – unlike the bookcase behind the co-authors in their demonstration video.
The Big Payoff
The authors admit that it can be difficult to project both traits at once, yet, when we do, we attract respect and affection: “We live most fully when we cultivate both in our lives, when we balance a high degree of individual capability with an unflagging regard for the needs and interests of others.”
More Ways to Warm Up Others To Feel Closer
Other ways to demonstrate warmth towards others are to praise others by name for specific actions, prove you’ve heard them, use connective humor, share uplifting news, sidle up (standing more or less side-by-side rather than facing off) and walk together.