Competence is not always perfectly aligned with confidence. That’s why communication coaches exist – to help their high-performing clients (often introverts) show up confidently and communicate a compelling message.
It’s not that they haven’t tried. Positive statements in the form of mantras can help. Stretching your body can help. Standing up straight is useful. Increasing speaking volume is sometimes called for.
“Faking it until you make it” is a comforting strategy for some, but commonly arouses fear of fraudulence among the highly conscientious.
There is, however, a filter through which you can show up at any meeting, any group setting, any conversation, being more relaxed and focused on the others, rather than your own sweaty palms and quavering voice.
This mindset is also key to practicing inclusive communication.
Relaxed attention on others is what confident leadership looks like. It’s never about being puffed up like a strutting peacock.
This key mindset is a Host Mentality
Think about that upcoming executive meeting. Recall the awkwardness at the beginning as people start showing up.
Then you adapt the Host Mentality and start checking in on people – even the ones you don’t know very well. Imagine they were sitting in your living room at home (after the cleaning service was complete, of course.) You would totally focus on making sure everyone in the room was comfortable and at ease.
Make sure everyone’s having a good time, at least as good as is possible for the occasion of that executive meeting.
The Host Mentality also encourages inclusive communication.
When you direct your attention to making sure others are comfortable and feel welcome, you are being the ultimate inclusive leader, even if, and may especially if, it’s not even your meeting.
5 Behaviors of the Host Mentality
You may not be able to practice each of these behaviors in every meeting, but overall they are the result of a relaxed leader mindset because you strategically focus on others.
- Engage people with short, high-energy conversations. It can be as simple as asking, “How’s it going?” The point is not conversational splendour but rather checking in with every single person, as many as is possible. Keep it short. Move on to the next person.
- Be democratic; make sure everyone is contributing. The nature of humanity is that a few chatty people will dominate any conversation. The inclusive leader with a host mentality, asks for input from the those not speaking up. There are many ways to do this but the main thing is to set that expectation of 100% participation.
- Practice focused listening. Try to read the emotion as well as the content of what the other person is saying. Check in with what you think they are trying to communicate, verify your hypothesis by asking, “What I understand you are saying is ________________.”
- Connect everyone to each other. This is a reliable practice among introverts: when you can’t think of anything to say, introduce your conversation partner to someone else. Make an informed introduction by expressing why they should meet up at a later date.
- Bring donuts. Or fruit, or cheese and crackers. Coffee, tea, and waters. Low blood sugar doesn’t help any meeting.
The people who engage in positive personal check-ins, seek contributions from everyone, really listen to others, and charismatically connect everyone through strategic introductions are the leaders whose teams consistently outperform.
Try on your host mentality. That’s what the folks who always bring donuts have practiced for decades. It works.