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  • marion@marionspeaks.com
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CommunicationDifficult peopleResiliency & attitude

ASK MARION: What to do when you get no enthusiasm back

One of my greatest pleasures is hearing from YOU! When you respond and comment to my articles, it lets me know what subjects are of most interest, and it helps me tailor the type of communication I provide to better serve you. Besides all these great biz reasons, hearing from you just feels good. (Want to comment on THIS article? Post below at the bottom).

When you get responses, you know that you’re connecting. Have you ever communicated with someone and received no emotional energy back in return? I received a question recently on this subject and wanted to share my reply for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

QUESTION: 

I love your newsletter. Thank you for your amazing tips and stories!! My question is this: How do you respond to your manager’s straight face, glossy eyes when you present something that you are very excited about? I am never sure about this one. I still keep my enthusiasm, never give up, try to give more info, until I get exhausted and disappointed. What to do?
Signed,
Disappointed D

MARION’S RESPONSE: 

Dear D, sadly, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm you may hold for your ideas and projects. Or maybe they do and just express (or don’t) their feelings differently. It’s definitely a downer, if you let it be. Here’s some tips that may change your perspective and how you respond.

Determine if this is a pattern or an isolated incident.

Think back over the last several times you’ve presented an exciting project or idea in an animated way to this particular person. What was their reaction? Is there a consistent pattern of this person responding in the same low-key, unemotional way? Further, is there a pattern of this person responding with little enthusiasm not just to you, to others as well? If so, it might not be you or your idea that he or she isn’t wild about–it might be a clash of communication styles. It might not be that your idea is not well received at all. This lack of enthusiasm may just be them. Calibrate the response to the person.

If this is a pattern, change your style.  

Here’s the good news and the challenge: We’re all blessedly different. As such, you communicate differently than others and you default, especially when stressed, to a style that feels most comfortable for you. It might not be as comfortable for the receiver. In fact, it might be the complete opposite way he or she prefers to receive information. When someone’s communication style is very different than yours, meet them partway. If your natural tendency is to be over-the-moon exuberant, take it down a notch. The person on the receiving end will find it easier to relate to what you’re saying because your style of delivery more closely resembles his or hers. 

Let’s be clear here: stay genuine, stay authentic. Just tweak it a bit to mitigate the gap between the difference in communication styles. Stay true to yourself, just a toned-down version. (PS: conversely, if you’re not clicking with someone because your interpretation of “being excited” is perceived by him or her as a limp, wet mop, then turn up the energy and be more animated. It will help you connect).

If this is an isolated incident, change the environment. 

If someone is normally enthusiastic toward you and your ideas and on a certain occasion doesn’t respond in the usual lively fashion, it might have nothing to do with you. It’s likely an unrelated distraction of some sort. Acknowledge this to yourself, then shake things up a bit. You could suggest that you meet for coffee or in a neutral location of some sort. It may be that your presentation has caught him or her at a bad time, so reschedule. Change the location, change the time, and you change the tone of the conversation. Sometimes, people need a change of scenery to have a change of mind.

She thought I was sharing too much personal info.

Years ago, I remember delivering what many told me was a poignant and moving opening keynote to a woman’s conference. It was my speech entitled, “Fill ‘er Up” which included touching stories of personal struggles and how I used them to grow and shift my thinking. After the hour-long talk to a group of several hundred, I was surrounded by attendees thanking me for putting into words how they felt, telling me how they related to my stories and sharing their own amazing tales of triumph.

Then, a woman named Alice introduced herself and told me that she felt my stories were far too emotionally charged and personal. Pop! My bubble was burst. Unlike the rest of the attendees who felt validated and buoyed connecting on such an emotional level, the degree of emotion I shared made this woman feel uncomfortable. So much so, she felt compelled to let me know. It was an interesting perspective.

I’m grateful Alice spoke to me. It made me realize that, no matter how well you communicate, no matter how many people you reach, there will always be a small percentage of your audience with whom you will not connect. It could be because of your message or the way in which it was delivered. It might be that you touch a chord inside that that they aren’t prepared to deal with. Emotion is tough for some people to handle, and that’s perfectly fine. Adjust your communication style to the extent you feel comfortable, while always remaining true to yourself.

 

They might not match your level of emotion.

When someone doesn’t reflect the enthusiasm that you ooze, it often speaks more about him or her than it does about you. It may be their personality and the way they communicate. Some people really ARE excited. Sadly, they forget to tell their face. We all express enthusiasm and interest differently. It could be bad timing or a distraction and lack of focus that you’re seeing, not necessarily a lack of interest. Their seeming absence of emotion or energy may have nothing to do with you at all. It’s not about you, it’s about them and where their head it at when you deliver your message.

What they think doesn’t change your value.

Even if someone doesn’t value your ideas, it doesn’t change how valuable you and your ideas are. And that’s something you can get excited about.

Comments about this article? Go one and post them on my blog below. DO YOU HAVE A COMMUNICATION QUESTION? Blog it below, or write to me at Marion@MarionSpeaks.com

©2011, updated ©2020 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT www.MarionSpeaks.com 
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LET’S GET THE CONVO STARTED!

Post your comments and reactions below. There are no right or wrong responses, just honest, respectful ones. I’d love to hear your opinion. What about this article resonated with YOU?

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2 Comments

  • I think your suggestion of tweaking communication styles without losing your genuine, authentic self is brilliant. And also recognizing that some people do not show emotion in the ways we expect and that the timing of one’s communication can simply be wrong given other things that are happening in their life that day. The phrase “it’s not always about you” comes to mind.

    I got convinced to try Brooklyn 99 on Netflix even though yet another police show didn’t sound appealing. Turned out one of its stars was Andre Braugher, an actor I have really liked in other roles. And in this role, he plays a police captain who conveys emotion through the tiniest of facial changes, too insignificant for most people to even notice. It’s a fun, over-the-top comedy with a real range of communication styles. Those who think they need to learn more about the subject might find the show works for them.

    • Jane, thx for taking the time to post your thoughts. Much appreciated. You honed in on one of the most critical points of communication–always be true to yourself, the real you. Doing so will allow you to live with no regrets and will attract those people who will best support you.

      And thanks for the tip about the Netflix comedy, Brooklyn 99. I’m always looking for new shows to try and look forward to checking this one out. It’s fun to watch these programs from a “communications” perspective. We can learn so much while being entertained! Take care, stay safe, and thx again for sharing your comments.

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