Emotional Presence: It’s Good Business!

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We likely know what emotions are and what presence is but we may not have considered the importance of emotional presence. This article is about its importance to your business.

“The affairs of the heart are directly connected to the brain and it’s the heart’s natural intelligence that must be unfolded for the brain to operate with greater efficiency.”        

Magical Child, Joseph Chilton Pearce, Plume, 1992

Imagine you’re with a prospect listening to their challenges, goals, and thinking about offering practical support. You may be asking a lot of questions. But are you connecting with your heart as much or more as you are with your head? How would you know and why should you care?

What is Emotional Presence?

When I was learning to improve my public speaking, I took an innovative program called Speaking Circles. The emphasis was not on learning techniques related to stage presence, but rather emotional presence. We started by sitting across from strangers and keeping eye contact without speaking for five minutes. It was uncomfortable, vulnerable, and awkward. It was also deeply satisfying once I learned that to be authentic and influential I must allow all of me to be seen and shared and to offer the same to others. All includes thoughts and feelings. This was at total odds with the notion that as a speaker, I should present a strong, invulnerable stance as the expert, practice for hours, and learn techniques. It was new to exchange emotional support with my audience and welcome and provide connection with an open heart as priority over providing content alone.

What does emotional presence look and feel like?

It does NOT look like jumping in with solutions (initially). It looks like recognizing the emotional experiences of the other and communicating this recognition. Imagine your prospect says, “I hope I can afford your services because I really want to move forward with you.” Rather than saying, “I’ll work with you on pricing” (which you might say later) you connect emotionally saying, “I see. You’re excited this might be a solution but you’re afraid to get your hopes up in case it’s out of your budget.” When your prospect is ready, you will know what to say from your thinking mind, which is just as important but not more important than emotional presence.

Emotional presence is gaining credibility and momentum

Many of us have been taught to fear and disdain this philosophy of opening our hearts, and affirming the emotional. However, it is woven into the work of many past and current highly influential people. One example is business writer and consultant Patrick Lencione, especially in his book Getting Naked in which he contrasts two radically different approaches to conducting business. One is to be the expert and prove it by posturing as invulnerable, all knowing and intellectually superior. The other is to jump in as a good and trusted friend, helping immediately, freely admitting your weaknesses because your heart is in their corner and self-protection has no place in the exchange.

Dan Price, owner of Gravity is another example. He made an innovative move to pay all of his employees a minimum of $70,000 a year so they can relax emotionally around their financial concerns and focus on service. Researcher, author and speaker Brene Brown shares the power of emotional presence and our hunger for empathy and authentic connection in her highly popular books and presentations. Celebrities, philosophers, and more are recognizing the power of the heart and mind together!

If you wish to improve your business (and personal life too), consider your ability to strengthen and communicate emotional presence. You may find it is the missing link to your peace of mind, joy, and success.

This article is published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, May 2016

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