Not Getting Promoted? Check Your Hallway Presence
This guy has a robust portfolio, clients like him and he does what it takes to get the job done. But, you know, I’ve seen him in the hallway and I’m not impressed.” This scenario is not uncommon in the consulting world: analysts and consultants undermine their hard work with an unimpressive “hallway presence.”
Picture this: a group of partners from a name-brand consulting firm sit in a conference room. Piles of bios and head shots litter the mahogany table. This group of men and women are trying to decide who should be promoted from their consultant pool to the role of Principal.
They compare team performance, client portfolios and new business won. One of the partners picks up a bio and shrugs. “This guy has a robust portfolio, clients like him and he does what it takes to get the job done. But, you know, I’ve seen him in the hallway and I’m not impressed.”
This scenario is not uncommon in the consulting world: analysts and consultants undermine their hard work with an unimpressive “hallway presence.”
Keith Johnstone, the improvisational guru and ad-hoc social scientist, explains this phenomenon in the following quote:
No behavior is insignificant. When we interact together, our brains are counting the blink rate and registering even the tiniest head movement.
In books like Blink and How We Decide, by Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer respectively, this phenomenon is explained by neuroscience. By the time we actually make a decision about something (or someone), our brain has taken in a file cabinet of data that we are blissfully unaware of. It feels like a snap judgment when we pass someone in the hallway and our pre-frontal cortex says, “No.”
The truth is that our brain has been counting those blinks and head movements for weeks before we make that decision and that the more snap the decision feels, the more foolproof it is. The partner has been passing you on your way back from the restroom and gathering that data while you have been blissfully unaware of the data-gathering that is happening.
“But wait,” you cry at the unfairness of this situation, “I have to be ‘on’ when I’m coming out of the restroom? That’s too much pressure!”
Fair enough. And…what an opportunity! You can choose to mumble “Hey” while you scroll through your texts or you can look ‘em in the eye and make a connection. Just placing your awareness on your hallway presence will make a difference.
Imagine yourself being memorable, in a good way, to those partners sitting around the table…
And you will be.
How sharp are your presence skills? Take our presence assessment.