Thursday, November 21, 2013

Become Galadriel: Creating Charisma through Self Empowerment

Last week I became fascinated by an article posted by The Art of Manliness about establishing a sense of power in relationship to people around you in order to make oneself more charismatic. The article is the second in a series that will break down charisma into three elements. This one basically states that one way of establishing charisma is to make yourself seem like the most powerful person in the room. It takes the stance that even if you aren't naturally powerful or charismatic, there are active steps you can take in order to fake it till you make it.

Why am I on about charisma and power? Part of being a Slayer is creating the ideal future for yourself through the betterment of your health as a means to help you achieve the goals you set in the rest of your life. Getting to the gym and consistently making healthy choices sure is hard, but at the end of the day it won't be the only thing that helps you achieve the life you want. It's just one subset of creating inner confidence and projecting pride and care for yourself outward. Here, nearer to the end of my initial weight loss journey, I can tell you for sure that simply losing the weight is only one part of my journey. It's not going to make my costumes, get me auditions, or monetize any of my creative pursuits so that I can spend my life doing the things that make me happy. It sure did help with all of those things, but it isn't the whole picture. That's why I want to take some time to talk about what can make us powerful and help us get one more set closer to being the Hero in our own action movie called Life. 

Firstly, the article on The Art of Manliness has a heavy slant towards things men can do to achieve empowerment. There is some cross-over, but ultimately being a "big gorilla" and draping yourself over all sorts of furniture isn't really something I'd recommend a woman do in the workplace. All that talk about inflating your chest and getting people to step aside for you just doesn't seem like something a woman would do to establish power. I'm a firm believer in equality for women and men, but I think our body language is a bit different based on our sex. Therefor, instead of trying to get all my Lady Slayers to embrace their inner gorilla, I'm going ask you to find your inner Galadriel. 

There are lots of wonderful female characters in sci-fi and fantasy out there that I could choose from, but honestly Galadriel seems to be the best overall example of how to establish power in a professional environment. I'm thinking of course of scenes like welcoming the Fellowship to Lothlorien and her dealings with Gandalf and Elrond in Rivendell in The Hobbit. Aside from magic and a very special ring, what makes Galadriel so powerful and what draws people to her?
Grooming: The Lady of Light is described as the "mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle Earth." It's time to get "fair" up in this blog! 

How you put yourself together has a lot to do with people's impressions of you. This doesn't mean you need to wear suit, but it means you need to dress the best you possibly can for the kind of job you want to have. That will be different if you're an actor, an art dealer, a lawyer, or a marketing executive. Every line of work has it's own dress code and you need to do the research so you can look the part. 

The other aspect is that you need to make sure you're wearing clothes that fit you. Maybe you don't have an art department and an army of seamstresses designing clothes specifically for you and dressing you, but make sure that as you're losing weight and reshaping your body, you have a few professional ensembles that make you look and feel like a million bucks. When you feel like you look good, your confidence sky rockets. When others think you look good, you'll be the center of attention. 

The other aspect of grooming yourself as a woman is that you want to have clothes that emphasize the shape of your body, but do not reveal too much. It's a delicate balance. You'll notice that Galadriel wears form fitting clothing that emphasizes how tall and slender she is, but never shows any cleavage or leg. She is amazingly beautiful but she stands aloof from those who need to flash flesh for attention. In this case, flashing flesh would only diminish her power and create a scenario where more people would tend to objectify her. 

One thing you can do is create your own color palette. The major color in Galadriel's wardrobe is white. It gives her a constant luminescent quality only equalled by Gandalf when he returns in The Two Towers. It gives her a lightness and an attention grabbing power when compared to those who are perhaps well groomed, but in darker apparel or those who are travelers covered in grime while she remains impeccably clean. You can create a "character design" for yourself by choosing a favorite color and working it into most of your ensembles. Whether they actively realize it or not, people will come to expect it from you. It establishes a weird sense of reliability. When a person is stable and reliable, it is an empowering thing. However, you can also break this rule if you want to dress for a specific. When Galadriel reveals her blue ensemble during the Rivendell section of The Hobbit, it seems like she knows darkness is about to descend over Middle Earth. It's almost jarring. You can use that kind of "costume design" to your advantage when it comes to your own fashion sense in the real world. 

People who dress well automatically garner more respect from people around them simply because it seems like they have their lives in order enough to spend time and effort putting themselves together in the morning. It's simple, sort of silly, but no less true.

Places of Power: Be tall. I'm five feet tall, so I'm naturally more hobbit sized myself, but Galadriel is taller than almost everyone else around her either by fact or design. Some of us win the genetic lottery on this point and others, like myself, don't. If you're shorter, you can wear heels in the workplace, but only if you can maintain grace while doing so. I, sadly, cannot so I have to figure out ways to physically move myself into places of power. 

You'll notice that Galadriel will find any way to stand above the people she's talking to without being insulting. When the Fellowship arrives at Lothorien, she greats them on a stepped dais. When negotiating with Elrond and Gandalf in Rivendell, she takes the higher ground again. 

When dealing with people closer to her status she will tend to stand apart from them, while when dealing with those who are naturally below her, such as hobbits or dwarves, she will step in closer and incline her head downward. It seems like she is creating greater height, but increasing the intimacy of the interaction to let them know that what they have to say or do is welcome. In either case, she is in control of how close anyone gets to her. If you're standing and giving a presentation to a group of people seated around a table, you can let them know you're inviting their input by leaning forward with your hands on the table when you're done speaking and asking confidently for their opinion. It keeps you looking down at them, while also giving the impression that you're interested and prepared to hear what they have to say now that you're done speaking.

In The Hobbit, Galadriel lets all the men gather around the center table to discuss the rise of Sauron whiles she slowly an methodically circles the room in thought. She places herself apart from them and therefor gives herself a different status. 

You'll notice she touches Gandalf at one point in The Hobbit. No one ever dares to initiate touch with her which is an aura you can create by embracing the technique of standing in places of power. If you're at a meeting and everyone is seated around the table. Sit up straight when you're speaking or if you really need to impress a point or make a presentation, get up and stand while everyone else is sitting. If you're speaking in front of a group of people, stand apart from them and make them come to you if they want to ask follow up questions. Remain in control of the physical flow of conversation.

Posture of Power: Seriously, stand up straight. Don't apologize for your presence by slouching. The's not just something Galadriel does. That's pretty standard for most elves. Even at her weakest point, when Frodo offers her the ring and she Super Saiyan freaks out, she's standing up straight as a board. Her limbs and her face are the only things that become wild. 

Note, that posture of power is straight and not sensual for women. Do not push out your bum and your boobs and expect to be taken seriously. You will garner attention for sure, but it probably won't be for the reasons you want in the work place. 

Speak When You Have Something Important to Say: If you are a woman who remains mostly silent, it's hard to be taken seriously. However, if you're a women who is a non stop blabber you won't be taken seriously either. You can increase your charisma score by waiting to speak or make a joke till the opportune moment which is to say, be sure of what you're saying and make sure it's relevant to what came just before. Do not let yourself be passed over because what you have to say might not be popular and do not cover up your opinions with senseless babble and overly diplomatic terms. State how you feel and/or what you want as clearly and concisely as possible. That way, when you talk people will listen. Otherwise, you're just crying wolf.

Galadriel always knows what to say and how best to help because, well, she is practically immortal. She's been around a long time and seen a lot of things. Plus she's got that whole "Mirror of Galadriel" thing going for her which can educate her on the past, the present, and the future. 

Make sure you're knowledgeable about what you're saying. Educate yourself and get passionate about your hobbies. Know everything there is to know about them so that when the opportunity comes for your input, you're ready. If you have a wealth and well versed breadth of knowledge and people discover that about you, you'll be the point person they come to for answers whether that's how to get into crossfit or how to code the HTML for the company's new website. 

Don't Let People Get Away With Lying to You: At work, it's hard to call someone out on something they've done that undermined, hurt, or otherwise left you undeservedly in the dark. Galadriel has the magical bonus of being able to telepathically let Frodo know that she knows he has The One Ring and has seen The Eye of Sauron.

She could easily have called him out on this in front of the rest of the Fellowship and revealed that every time he uses the ring, he's practically inviting Sauron right to him, but she doesn't. She approaches him privately (albeit in his head) and speaks with him in detail later on. This allows him to keep his secrets from whomever else he chooses, leaving him some sense of power and control over his affairs, but also forces him to be vulnerable specifically to her. All of this is to say, if you have an issue with someone at work, try to sort it out on your own before inviting anyone else into the mix. You'll assert your worth to the person you feel has wronged you without tarnishing their image to others. Usually, they will respect you more and be thankful for the grace you've shown them. Hopefully this will make them a future ally rather than a very public and unpredictable enemy.

Don't be an Ice Queen: All of this talk about being aloof and separate does tend to make for more of a White Witch of Narnia aesthetic than one that's approachable. At the end of the day you want to be in control of who you "let in" and make yourself vulnerable to. Galadriel is not without a sense of humor. You don't want to be the wise cracker who no one takes seriously, but an important part of Charisma is being able to laugh and make the best of every situation. You can use your power to lighten the mood when something serious is going on. You can share personal jokes with those around you, raising yourself in their esteem as long as when it's time to get serious, you're able to return to decorum. 

Are there any other sci fi and fantasy heroines out there that you think make great models for establishing charisma and power in the workplace? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

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