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Neutrality Is Power

Most people, whether they realize it or not, seek approval and validation from other people to some extent. It’s just normal human behavior. Obviously, some people need more approval and validation than others. Knowing that pattern in human nature and how it applies to you can work either for or against you—depending on how well you use it.

In any relationship, the person who doesn’t need approval and validation from others—or can convince them he doesn’t need their approval and validation—will often become the most influential person in the group. He will emerge as the leader.

One important organizing principle of the MANformation leadership program is to stop depending on or needing the approval and validation of others—or learn to convince others that you don’t need those things from them. The person who believes he must earn validation from any other person in the group relinquishes power.

Effective leadership, influence and persuasion go even further. A strong leader does an assortment of very subtle things that get other people to seek his approval and validation.

Whether you realize it, you’re constantly “training” people how to treat you. If you don’t feel you’re getting the respect you deserve, take full responsibility for how you might be contributing to the problem. It’s your responsibility to get other people to respect your opinions and time. You should never just hope they will because you believe they should.

There’s no universal law that you must immediately react to everything anyone says or does to you. In fact, there’s no universal law that you need to react at all. If it’s been ingrained into your belief structure that reacting is just “common courtesy,” you may want to ask yourself whether that belief is serving you well—or unnecessarily boxing you into situations you’d rather not be in. The powerful, charismatic alpha male does not live by that rule.

The more you allow people to interrupt your pace, flow and patterns and get you to operate within their timetables, the more they will expect you to keep doing it. You’ll disappoint them if you ever stop reacting to them so quickly in the future.

Is the way you are currently conducting yourself with other people what’s best for you? Be sure to set boundaries and time frames for yourself and other people that will serve you well in both the short and long run.

If you have any experience dealing with powerful men, you’ve probably noticed that they don’t show much emotion in face, voice or body language until they’ve given what’s been presented careful consideration. They often take phone calls, handle e-mail and make appointments less frequently or at a slower rate than the average person. It’s not always because they’re extremely busy. Powerful leaders fully understand the need to effectively manage the time frames they establish with other people.

In the popular television series “Mad Men,” the character Don Draper does an excellent job of displaying all of the alpha male leadership qualities and characteristics.

Why is that important to effective leadership?

The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. You’re indifferent when you don’t appear to approve or disapprove of another person—what that person is about or says or does. Indifference can have a powerful emotional effect on people.

Neutrality is another word for indifference. It’s amazing what people sometimes do to earn your approval and validation when they sense that you’re neutral. People will pay more attention to you and what you might be thinking when you’re neutral. That’s especially true when they’re confident and really believe in what they have to say. It’s almost as if they are thinking to themselves, “He must not have understood my point because I got no reaction from him. Let me do a better job of explaining my point.”

A man who shows his emotions too quickly can lose his power—just ask a good poker player. Showing your emotions immediately—whether positive or negative—will often lessen people’s desire to get your approval and validation.

There’s power in staying neutral. There is power in not reacting immediately to everything that is said and done to you. There is power in working from your time frames instead of always accommodating everyone else’s.

The alpha male works from his own timetable and decides when, how and how much emotion he gives to another person’s words or actions. The alpha male is a master at displaying on his face what I call in my MANformation program the “momentary neutral expression.” That’s when he consciously holds back from reacting to anything that is said or done to him, whether positive, negative or something in between.

The alpha male understands that people will appreciate his smile and laugh when it doesn’t come easily. He also understands that people will be less likely to test him or push his emotional buttons if the negative responses they’re trying to get from him don’t come easily or, better yet, don’t come at all.

The alpha male appears to be calm, cool, collected and poised at all times. Stay in control of every situation by consciously slowing down everything you do. Your perception of time is probably a lot faster than it is for the people you are interacting with. When you think you are reacting too slowly, slow everything down even more. Practice that mind-set and skill until you have them mastered.

Earning another person’s respect is far more important to the alpha male leader than being liked. You must accept the fact that not everyone is going to like you in every situation. You can still be powerful and influential with others even if you aren’t liked if they respect you.

The strategies that I have shared will help make other people work harder for your approval and validation. Your approval and validation will be important for them to pursue only if they respect you.

—Skip La Cour

Editor’s note: Six-time national-champion bodybuilder and success coach Skip La Cour is the creator of MANformation, a powerful personal-development and fitness program for men that is based on the qualities and actions of the world’s most powerful, influential and charismatic men. It is a structured series of alpha leadership strategies for transforming you into the man you really want to be. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life right now, what you have achieved so far or your age. The MANformation program will help you become a better version of you—step-by-step and one strategy at a time. To learn more about the MANformation personal-development program, visit Sign up for the free weekly e-newsletter, and you’ll get a free alpha leadership e-book.

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