Posted by: ritagone | December 11, 2013

Being Compelling


I read something in an article recently that asked a rather provocative question:  “When people size you up, what are they looking for?”

With quotes taken from the book “Compelling People,” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut, the article goes on to say that “it turns out that when we decide how we feel about someone, we are making not one judgment, but two.  The criteria that count are what we call ‘strength’ and ‘warmth.’  Strength is a person’s capacity to make things happen with abilities and force of will.  When people project strength, they command our respect.  Warmth is the sense that a person shares our feelings, interests, and view of the world.  When people project warmth, we like and support them.”

It reminded me of Luke 2:52, talking about Jesus’ growing up years, and how “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.”  If any person could be said to have had strength and warmth, Jesus did.  When He spoke, fruit on trees would wither and die if He decided that that’s what they should do.  Or, on the other hand, trees would blossom before their season, because He commanded it.  That’s strength.  People listened to Him.  They respected Him.  Oh, not the religious leaders.  Because their definition of strength was completely different from Jesus’, so they discounted how He moved among the people and worked His many charms.

And He was warm, totally tuned in to the people He was with, caring about them, focused on them, as if the person He was talking to were the only person in the world.  You know that feeling when you’re with someone who treats you with special care: that no one else matters to them at that moment like you do.  That’s what Jesus was able to communicate to the people who crossed His path as He walked the roads of His country.

The religious leaders were not interested in warmth.  In fact, they looked upon this trait as a weakness, not as a character strength.  In their minds, you used people for what they could offer you, and then you moved on.

Does any of this sound familiar?  We’re not too far removed from these kinds of attitude, these kinds of behaviors today.  Everywhere you look you find people who exhibit both sides of the spectrum when it comes to warmth and strength. People who are strong but not warm, warm but not strong.  When someone exhibits both warmth and strength, they are what we would call a “winner.”  Instantly likeable.  Amazingly gifted with leadership ability.  People we would do anything for.  People we care about because we feel they care about us.

So these traits do matter.  They tell people what we’re like, who we are, or what we want to be known as.   We watch for these qualities in other people, making assessments of character, and then we try to broadcast them to others about ourselves as we move through our own life.  We are constantly playing this little game of assessing and being assessed by the people around us.  I like you; do you like me?

When you meet someone who is both strong and warm, they really stick with you.  Why is that?  I assume because, as the article I read and the book “Compelling People” both state, this combination is rather difficult and rare to come by.  Usually people are either one or the other.  Warm people are cordial, great to have as friends because you feel they care about you, but they’re not particularly strong of character or firm of integrity.  On the other hand, strong people tend to have a cool aloofness which allows them to accomplish that which they set out to do without having to worry about whether or not the people around them are being damaged in any way.  They just don’t care enough to worry about that aspect of things.

So when someone comes along who both cares and accomplishes things, he or she is a force of nature.  As Jesus was.  You can probably list those people on the fingers of one hand who fit this category: warm and strong, capable and caring.

Something to think about in the days and weeks ahead as we finish out 2013: which way do you lean?  Are you a warm, caring person, or do you tend to be more of the strong, action-type?  Or do you have a heartfelt desire to be more blended, a combination of the two that reflects the best of both characteristics?

Would that be a worthwhile New Year’s resolution to think and pray about for 2014?  To become a warmer, more sensitive person if you’re the strong, capable type.  And to be more assertive, to accomplish more next year while not giving up your concern and care for others around you.  A noble undertaking, worthy of your deepest prayers and top priority as a resolution for the coming year.


  1. You are just amazing! Your last 4-5 ramblings have been stellar and I have loved reading them. Good stuff! Blessings Michael

    Michael Allen Katzenberger Team Leader Eastern & Central Europe Email: Cell: 805.405.8006

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