Earlier this year, as I was running errands, I was reminded of the power of our presence – even when we don’t speak. As I walked through the parking lot toward the Target store, I noticed two men in the middle of the parking lot row. Their cars were both partially backed up. It was clear that they’d backed into each other. I remember thinking, “Boy, I just passed through here. I’m grateful they didn’t hit me.” As I drew closer, I heard the man on the left grunt under his breath and say “I mean, didn’t you see me backing up?… ” The man on the right grunted back and said “No. Didn’t you see me?”
It became clear that they were beginning to take the swirling vortex down below the line into Frustration. (See BeAbove Leadership’s 7 Levels of Personal, Group and Organizational Effectiveness Here)
At that point, I decided to experiment with what I could do to bring the situation back above the line with my presence alone. I walked straight between the two men and splashed a little above the line love energy on them as I passed. For those of you who have a hard time processing “energy stuff,” I essentially did this by thinking and good thoughts and intending harmony as I passed between them.
As I walked away, I heard the man on the right say “But, dude, you’re okay though right?”
When I returned to the parking lot, after running my errands inside the store, the men had re-parked their cars and were busy trading information. Instead of embodying frustration – fighting against each other, each looking to blame the other – they looked like best buddies. They were laughing and exploring the possibilities together (a sign of Engagement and Innovation in the 7 Levels).
Imagine what might’ve happened if I’d stopped and spoken to the two men, saying something like “take it easy guys, its just a little parking lot incident. They happen all the time. It’s really not anyone’s fault and your cars both look fine to me.” I do not think that would’ve landed well (especially if I spoke from the same Frustration energy that they were embroiled in).
So often we place all of our attention on what we say and assume that that’s doing the entire job of connection, influencing and impacting the world around us. We tend to underestimate the value of our presence – how we embody both the words and the silences.
Choose one interaction this week and play with your presence even in the silences. Notice your impact.