He walked towards me. His uniform was dark blue, almost - practically - black. I extended my hand in greeting. "I don't shake." He said.
The interaction went promptly downhill from there. He kept raising his voice to my client. He was abrupt. Rude. Aggressive.
"Would you mind to call your supervisor?" I asked. I asked it quietly. In a low voice. He turned red in the face.
The supervisor exited his car ten minutes later, effectively yelling as he stepped out. They were in charge, by GOD.
It struck me then, and it still sticks in my mind, this was a sad display of command presence. Yell louder. Talk over people. Bark orders.
He sat at the edge of the room. Calm. He wore sweat pants and a sock cap. "Everybody ready?" He asked.
The entire room, all 15 people listened intently as he guided us through a series of postures. No one missed a step, and if they needed a slight adjustment, he walked to them and whispered guidance and suggestions.
His confidence and his simple directives resulted in a highly effective command presence.
Granted, the first interaction was a cop in a street situation. He didn't know any of the players. While we were all there to work with him (and had made that clear in our phone call to the police), he was - obviously - lacking in confidence. That came through in his bullying attitude.
The second interaction was in a yoga studio. The instructor was clearly confident in his ability and the situation. That came through in his direct and lucid instructions.
I had a cop friend a few years back who told me his secret for taking control of any situation. He said, "I just talk softer. Then everybody else has to stop shouting to hear me." He said it works.
At the half-century mark of life, I have finally come to understand that command presence is most effective when the one taking charge is calm and confident.
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