Create Positive Personal Impact: Be Flexible, Adaptable and Open Minded

Successful people create positive personal impact.  Positive personal impact is similar to what many people call “charisma.”  It’s easy to spot people who create positive personal impact.  They’re the ones who are the center of attention at most business and social gatherings.  They’re the one to whom others gravitate.  They’re the ones others want on their project teams.

As I mention in Straight Talk for Success, you need to do three things if you want to create positive personal impact: 1) develop and nurture your unique personal brand; 2) be impeccable in your presentation of self, dress for success; and 3) know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.

Debra Benton is a friend of mine.  She is also a very good executive coach.  Debra has a way of dispensing great common sense advice in an easy to remember and use manner.  Her book, Executive Charisma, is no exception. 

In the last chapter, Debra urges readers to “observe that most people do (and what you’d typically do) and don’t do that.  Embrace the opposite, or at least a variation of the opposite.”  Her advice is somewhat counterintuitive until you look closely at it.

Here are some of the opposites Debra suggests:

“Go against the social norm without being weird or stupid.  It’s impossible to do something spectacular unless you do the opposite from the majority…"

“Initiate when others won’t."

“Expect acceptance instead of feeling undeserved or unequal to others."

“Give acceptance instead of judging."

“Ask favors instead of do, do, do."

“Stand tall, every when you’re too tired."

“Smile when you don’t feel like it."

“Show humanness versus reverting to your role."

“Use humor when things are serious.

“Touch when you are afraid.

“Slow down when you have a lot to do.

“Shut up when you have a lot to day.

“Listen when you don’t want to.”

Debra goes on to say…

“Doing the opposite isn’t being stubborn, or obstinate.  It’s being flexible, adaptable, open-minded, willing to avoid the obvious and do the unexpected…and brave in doing something differently from the way you did it before.”

That’s some common sense. 

I particularly like what Debra’s idea, “Listen when you don’t want to.”  Most of us, myself included, tend to tune out people we don’t like, or who begin a conversation by saying something with which we disagree.  These are the times to listen the hardest; because they are times when we have the best opportunity of learning something new, or of reframing a problem.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people create positive personal impact.  You can create positive personal impact, by doing the opposite of what people expect you to do.  Follow Debra Benton’s advice. “Shut up when you have a lot to say.”  “Listen when you don’t want to.”  “Give acceptance instead of judging.”  When you do these things, you’ll be building a personal brand that defines you as someone who others want to work with.

That’s my take on creating positive personal impact by doing the opposite of what most people do in a given situation.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading – and commenting.


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  1. This is a great article Bud! I wish more people would “embrace the opposite” I’ve been fortunate to be promoted for my ability to do so, however it is a fine line I’ve also come close to being fired for pushing too hard in the opposite direction. Asking why multiple times and what if has really helped. It reminds me of a quote my George S Paton ‘If everyone is thinking alike then somebody is not thinking.’
    The other important point is “Listen when you don’t want to” I experienced this last month at a seminar, I was not conneting with the opening keynote speaker and was considering leaving but thinking that I paid and travelled and he was a keynote for a reason I stayed. As much as the first 1/2 hour was painful he did make a few points that stuck in my head and I was actually able to turn an unwelcome situation into something positive later that weekend.
    Again great article!
    Merry Christmas.

  2. Thanks for your comment Tim. Great story. Keep an open mind in 2009.
    All the best,

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