That Chip on Your Shoulder Looks Delicious!

Why intention matters, part 7001—

Because we can see it, read it in your body and hear it in your voice. You tell us exactly what is really going on with you, and boy is it fascinating!

I was coaching a woman recently who had been asked to give a presentation about a new project that she wants to get off the ground. She is really passionate about it, and the idea seemed like a no-brainer to me, from a business standpoint.

The odd thing was this: the whole presentation made me feel like I had said to her, “Hey, by the way, no matter what you tell me, we’re probably not going to green light this idea.” The set of her shoulders and chin, the clipped tone of her voice, her vocal pace, all let me know that she was defending her idea. 

When she finished, I said, “So you’ve been having a hard time getting any traction on this, huh?” She was surprised; how did I know? “You gave the presentation with a chip on your shoulder. You were already mad at me and I hadn’t done a thing!” She laughed, and admitted that she had had several meetings on this topic and hadn’t been able to get anywhere. 

She had no idea that her behavior was eloquently telling this back story. All those frustrating meetings were coming along with her for this presentation, which was going to be for more senior executives at her company. This was a fresh chance for her to get people on board with her idea, but if she didn’t knock the chip off her shoulder, she’d run the risk of alienating the audience.

The “why” of your communication is always going to drive your behavior. Shift your intention and watch your body follow suit.  

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