When I was at Stanford, I took a sociology class focused on the topic of status.
It was fascinating.
The big lesson learned from that class is your social status determines a large part of your influence.
Things like ethnicity, gender, height, and educational achievement determine how others perceive the validity of your ideas.
For example, if you take two identical resumes — one with a name that is obviously a man’s versus one with a name that is obviously a woman’s, the man will get more interview invitations.
This research had such a profound effect on me that when I ended up having three daughters, my ex-wife and I gave them all “boy” nicknames (but feminine formal first names).
My oldest is now in high school and likes to take on odd jobs to earn her own money.
When she applies for jobs that require more “masculine” traits of strength and toughness (such as weeding and pruning bushes), she applies using her male nickname.
When she applies for jobs that are more “feminine” in nature (such as household organizing), she uses her more feminine first name.
Now in the grand scheme of things, is any of this fair?
No, of course not.
However, human bias exists. We can (and should) work to reduce it, but until that work is fully done, we still need to navigate and be successful in a world that isn’t always fair.
The research on perceptual bias goes back decades. The world has very little variance in this regard.
The inextricable truth is some people get their ideas taken more seriously than others… even when both present an identical idea.
Some people have gravitas — the ability to be taken seriously — while others do not.
There are two kinds of gravitas. The first is demographic gravitas.
If you’re a tall, good-looking, older white male, your ideas will, by default, be taken more seriously by most people in most cultures.
If you’re a woman, a minority, younger, or speak with a low-status accent, your ideas will be taken less seriously by most people in most cultures.
Demographically-based gravitas is determined by your DNA and luck.
The second type of gravitas is what I call “situational gravitas.”
In situational gravitas, you can alter how much others take you seriously based on your actions and behaviors in that moment.
If you want to be taken seriously in a meeting or when giving a speech, the situational gravitas (or lack thereof) that you wield will be based on the specific actions you take prior to and during your meeting.
The ability to create situational gravitas isn’t determined by DNA or luck.
Instead, situational gravitas is a…
It is a skill that can be learned and developed. It is within your control.
If you didn’t luck out on demographic gravitas, you will need to develop an even greater level of situational gravitas to compensate.
Is this fair?
Is it true?
When I walk into a room of 300 older, white male CEOs, I usually get ignored. This is demographic gravitas at play.
When I step on stage to give a speech, within five to ten minutes, the people who ignored me a few minutes ago take out a piece of paper and start taking notes. This is situational gravitas at play.
I have done this 150+ times and it has worked for me every time with no exceptions.
I’ve used these same skills to appear on live national TV multiple times and have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and TIME magazine.
Trust me, short, nerdy, Asian men do not typically appear in those venues. However, when you understand how situational gravitas works and how you can wield it, it opens doors to being taken more seriously.
If you’d like to improve your situational gravitas, you’ll be interested in learning about my program on How to Develop Gravitas for Extreme Career Success. To be notified when the program is available in my next limited release, just submit the form below.
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