When a person has gravitas, it is a powerful thing. The word, “gravitas” comes from the Latin root, “gravis” which means “heavy.” Therefore, the Cambridge Dictionary defines, “gravitas” as: seriousness and importance of manner, causing feelings of respect and trust in others. When people respect and trust you, then you are taken more seriously and people are more open to your influence.
Gravitas is really about having a “presence” and an “authority” that enables you to speak up and make your input count. It is needed when you are interacting in the workplace with your boss and colleagues or even with your friends. Some people say that having gravitas is like possessing charisma or confidence so that when you step into a room, people will notice you; but it is a little bit more than that. What happens when you don’t have the charisma or don’t exude confidence? As the old adage goes, should you “fake it until you make it?” Not necessarily.
Rebecca Newton, an organizational psychologist and an executive coach has done research and found out that a person can develop gravitas. But the problem is that how do you do it without losing yourself and being authentically you. She argues that the best kind of gravitas comes from authenticity, which helps to build relational trust. Then, as we keep our integrity, we are able to impact the people around us.
Remember, when we possess gravitas, we are able to persuade, influence, and impact people around us. We can also add value to the organization and see some positive changes. So, let’s get to work.
Here are 6 skills (WEIGHT) to develop in order to grow in your gravitas:
- W – WORK on your values. It is vital that you understand and have a clear set of values because it is out of our values we will speak and act. Once you are able to define what your values are, then you can start aligning your behavior according to it. For example, if you value truth and honesty, then your actions will reflect this. It will build trust with people because they know that you will always stand up for what is truthful. Your words and actions will then carry more “weight.” This is why consistency with our values and actions will give you more gravitas.
Next Steps: Start off by writing out at least 5 values that you want to govern your life with, and then each day, try to find ways to live them out.
- E – EXPRESS your care. One easy way to strengthen your gravitas is to show people that you care. The more that a person knows that you care, the more they will be willing to listen to you. The popular phrase, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true. It is important that you earn people’s respect so that you can be heard with what you want to share. Work on valuing and caring for people and your words and input will have a greater impact.
Next Steps: Buy coffee for someone and have them share their story – how they got started at the job, what were some important lessons that they have learned over the years, and etc.
- I – INQUIRE to understand. In this age of endless information and competing distractions, it is easy for things to get lost in our communication. Instead of jumping to conclusions through our confirmation bias, it is helpful to ask good questions. This enables us to have a better understanding of the other person’s perspective. The more you ask, the more they will share their heart. Once people feel like you understand them, then the ability to influence and impact people is easier and greater.
Next Steps: In your next conversation with someone, make sure that you ask follow-up questions to what they just shared.
- G – GROW in integrity. The American Heritage Dictionary defines, “integrity” as: “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code; the state of being unimpaired; soundness, and the quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.” When there is no inconsistency in what we say and what we do or who we are in public and in private, our integrity is easily seen. When we grow in our integrity, it adds authority to what we say and what we do. Not only does it inspire people, but it helps us to be credible. When we have this credibility, we can influence people towards a course of action.
Next Steps: Ask someone who knows you and cares for you to see if there are any inconsistencies in your life. Then work on your integrity by keeping yourself accountable to various people in your context.
- H – HELP people. We live in a “dog-eat-dog” world and every person is watching out for themselves. People are constantly maneuvering to get ahead of someone else. This is why, when we go against the flow and offer to help someone, people take notice. Sometimes you might be accused of having ulterior motives, but help people anyways. When people are benefited from no-strings-attached help, their hearts will open up. It is always refreshing to know that someone is for you and not against you. This will draw a heart connection with people and they will be more open to your influence.
Next Steps: Find one person this week and ask how you can help them. And then deliver!
- T – TACKLE your fears. Fear is paralyzing. It hinders us from acting in confidence. The hesitation and second-guessing always prevent us from taking big steps of faith and making a positive impact on people. This is why we have to be more courageous. But please remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, in the midst of fear we do the right thing. The more fearful we become, the more insecure and self-conscious we get. Then it is no longer about others, but ourselves; and self-centeredness is not a good look on anyone.
Next Steps: Identify one fear and then this week, go against how you feel and then act in courage. Just watch the confidence that will start building up inside you, and then use it to fight another fear.
It is helpful to have more gravitas in our lives. Who doesn’t want to influence and impact people? Who doesn’t want to step into a room and automatically command respect from others? Who doesn’t want their input and opinions to be considered in order to influence a project? But remember, growing in gravitas does not happen overnight. It is something that we have to keep developing and working on, therefore, remember to have some WEIGHT by:
- WORK on your values
- EXPRESS your care
- INQUIRE to understand
- GROW in integrity
- HELP people
- TACKLE your fears