Updated: May 17
Personal Power – what is it really?
Personal Power is found within the quadrant of Self-Awareness of The Institute for Social+Emotional Intelligence (ISEI)® Four-Quadrant Model of Social+Emotional Intelligence.
ISEI® defines Personal Power as "a sense of self-confidence and an inner knowing that you can meet life’s challenges and live the life you choose; the ability to have the difficult conversations in life, and to speak your truth quietly, sincerely, assertively, and appropriately."
If you read our Book Club choice Crucial Conversations from last month (or read the Takeaways blog HERE), you know that there’s intentional effort required in successfully having the more difficult conversations in life.
Personal Power is not acquired without some effort and practice. It’s also something that can be learned, which is great news for anyone that finds they are struggling in this area of Self-Awareness.
When I first began to explore personal power, I thought of it as an area of Self-Awareness that only women would have to work on. However, it is a challenge for everyone. Needing to build Self-Confidence is not limited to one gender.
Ways to Increase Your Personal Power
1. Complete an Achievement & Success Log
By making a list of the things you’ve accomplished in your life, you’re able to see all that you’ve done and how far you’ve come. Everyone has moments of success. If we miss the opportunity to acknowledge our progress and make note of it, we many times forget all of our achievements.
When you list your achievements, also make a sincere effort to recapture the feelings you experienced when you achieved your goals. An important element of Self-Awareness is naming you emotions or feelings in the moment they occur. Keeping a updated Achievement & Success Log is highly beneficial. Here’s a download of the ISEI® Achievement & Success Log for your use.
2. Identify Your Strengths
Identify the things you excel in and how you feel when you are in your strength zone. Revisiting how we feel when we are in our “zone” can be very powerful.
If you’re unsure of your Strengths, you might consider taking the Strengthsfinder, also known as the CliftonStrengths. We can also easily know our strengths by what others ask us to help them with or what we’ve been told by our co-workers or friends that we do well.
3. Avoid Minimizing Language or Tone Minimizing language is when you put yourself down or use language that suggests lack of power or a lack of confidence. One challenge for many of us is awareness of unnecessary apologies, whether that is saying “I’m sorry” or offering explanations that aren’t warranted or needed.
Do you find yourself using “just” as in “I just need a minute of your time?” Asking permission with frequent uses of “Ok” verbally or in writing? Or have you reread an email and you find you have used “Please” as your go-to for paragraph and sentence starters?
If you’ve answered “yes," you might need to consider how your language is limiting your power and your perceived confidence. Other words you want to watch your use of include “only”, “hopefully” and “guess”.
Your voice inflection can also minimize the value of what you are saying. Do you find yourself rising your inflection at the end of a statement (“uptalk”)? This makes you sound tentative. “Uptalk” may be funny in movies, but not in a meeting where you are making a valuable point, because your message is missed because of the youthful “uptalk”.
We instruct others on how to respond to us by the language we use and through our tone. If our language is not a reflection of the confidence and assertiveness we have or need to convey, we will not be perceived as having the desired “power” or authority. I will continually suggest that if you find yourself needing to present in front of groups, find your safe practice space. I’m a fan of Toastmasters International, and more specifically for women, my Toastmasters Club, Kentuckiana Women in Leadership.
4. Set and Keep Boundaries
Setting and keeping healthy boundaries is important for our Self-Confidence and for your ability to speak the truth, whomever your audience might be. Brené Brown says that, “Boundaries are knowing what’s ok, what’s not ok, and why."
The first step in setting healthy boundaries is answering What’s Ok and What’s Not Ok. I recommend that you write these down, especially for areas of your life you struggle to maintain boundaries.
It will always be easier to set the boundary first, however most of us have had to have the boundary conversation post boundary issues. When this happens, writing out what the boundary issue is, what you really want, and what happens if the person continues to violate the boundary is crucial so that you can conduct that boundary setting conversation in the most calm manner.
If you have a particularly challenging boundary you need to set, consider taking the quiz at the end of this post to gain access to a complimentary 45-minute session with me and we can work on your framework and practice!
5. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Lastly, we CAN let go and stop trying to control situations over which we have no power. It may not seem like the most logical way to increase Personal Power. However, consider that when you’re feeling like you can’t control an outcome, it does impact your overall feeling of Personal Power.