Where is your energy?
Many of us spend time thinking about how to be successful in what we do. Often we come back to being better at managing our time. After all, time is precious right? And yes, whether we manage our time to do the things that matter or fritter it away will have an impact on how successful we are both at work and in our personal lives. But so will something else, and that something else is our energy level.
Time is a finite resource. You can’t make more time. But you can replenish your energy, and it’s your energy level that determines what you put into an activity, your critical thinking skills and your level of effort.
Its also your energy that has an impact on other people, and in this day and age the ability to work effectively with others is a defining success criteria for any job. Moods and emotions are “catching”. We transmit our moods to other people through a process called ‘social contagion’. So we pass on our positive or negative energy to other people. At the same time, we know that people want to be surrounded by positivity, so if you’re projecting negative energy, its probably not helping you get things done or get others to collaborate with you.
So, managing your energy becomes just as important as managing your time. To manage your energy, you need to be conscious of it so that you can control it. We have to be conscious of both maintaining our energy so we have enough to see us through everything we need to do, and also how our energy impacts others.
How do we manage our energy?
It is important to maintain your energy level by managing your way of life. Eating well, exercising, having effective relationships etc. All those things help us to maintain our overall energy and resilience to make sure we have the energy we need to do all the things that need to be done. There are lots of posts on this aspect of energy, so I’m going to focus on the need to manage our energy for impact.
To help with this we can look at the energy on a grid with two axis: 1) negative to positive and 2) how your energy is perceived, whether high or low.
So you end up with 4 options
- high positive energy
- low positive energy
- high negative energy
- low negative energy
How people will perceive your energy is a combination of your tone of voice, body language etc. For example, you might be perceived as someone with high positive energy if you are laughing out loud, talking to others with lots of hand gestures and smiling etc. You might be perceived as low energy if you are sitting quietly but peacefully with a smaller smile on your face.
You might be perceived as low negative energy if you are sitting quietly, but instead of smiling you are frowning. When you talk, you sigh a lot or describe things in a negative fashion. You might be perceived as high negative energy if you are shouting about how much you dislike something, or moving in an exaggerated fashion, slamming doors etc. around the office.
How we perceive energy levels is to some extent personal, based on our own frame of reference. People often then alter their behaviour based on what they ‘read’ from you. So it can get pretty tangly if we aren’t paying attention! If you’re not sure how you come across, ask some people you trust for feedback or do a 360 degree feedback survey so you can find out.
What if we are perceived as negative?
We can then choose to make changes to our energy level to have a different impact on the people around us.
The trick is to be conscious about it and work to manage the impact that can have. To do that, you have to start noticing two things;
- What do I do when I am in ‘negative’ mode?
- What triggers me to go into ‘negative’ mode?
It’s possible you didn’t realize some of the body language that you display came across as negative. You may not have been in a negative frame of mind, its simply about perception. Being conscious of that can help you adjust and make changes, or let people know how to interpret what they see e.g “sometimes when I’m thinking I pull this face – there’s nothing wrong, I’m just thinking”. That way people don’t interpret your mood incorrectly.
Of course, all of us can end up in a negative mood based on the events in our lives. We can all have that ‘bad’ morning that causes us to move into negative energy. When you become conscious of the things that cause you to do that, you can choose to respond differently:
1. Let it go. Recognize the level of emotional drain on you is probably out of line with the event itself and choose to forget about it.
2. Think about it differently. Often we end up in a negative place based on our perception of events e.g ” that person is a terrible driver, they cut me off on purpose!!” Instead, tell yourself a different story with a more positive angle “that person must have an emergency at home or they wouldn’t be in such a hurry”. It doesn’t matter if the story is ‘true’, its simply about changing your perspective.
3. Use the energy more productively, Rather than ‘leaking’ your negative energy to others, be constructive. Do some physical exercise to use it up, talk to a friend and get it off your chest. Something that allows you to get rid of the negative and get on with your day.
How you use your energy can be a key factor in how people work with you and your own productivity. If you want to ensure your energy is helping, not hindering, you, start noticing where you are and how you come across. The first step to everything is awareness!
For help with energy and impact, or to have Jess run an energy and impact session for your organization, call 709 325 1025 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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