the secrets of energy management
by amir gal-or
we all manage energy every day of our lives. we understand this intuitively. we do this while negotiating, communicating, and actually in all of the facets of our business interactions. the energy exerted between two colleagues, or during the interaction between any two participants is sometimes positive, and in some cases negative. energy is dynamic and can be classified in many different ways. it can be powerful or weak, and can change course as quickly as does the direction of the wind.
considering the volatility of energy, there are a series of questions that beg to be answered: when it comes to business, how important is it to manage energy? and, can it be managed to positively impact business dealings? and if the answer is yes to both questions, then the next big question is “how” can we best manage energy to achieve business success?
i can honestly say, that based on decades of experience with daily and literally back to back business meetings as well as brainstorming and briefing sessions, that no matter the topic - fundraising, investment, company board meeting, etc. – energy always plays a role. from the moment you walk into the room, the nature of the energy sets the mood, positive or negative, and serves as a barometer to let you know how much and what type of energy is required of you to achieve your goals.
i have found that the likelihood of success is 10 times greater if the energy in the room is positive than when it is negative. i have also found that the driver for the creation of negative energy, in any given interaction, is fear. more often than not, this fear often stems from a dynamic whereby one side is worried about the unknown or about the ability to protect its interests.
examples of this can be found in the venture and equity fund business. looking at the big picture: when due to financial loss change becomes inevitable in terms of ownership and management and positions are at risk, uncertainty and the unknown spawn negative energy into the communication between those seeking change and those in the existing apparatus, the latter naturally doing their best to defend their interests and, in the process, rely on fear as a driver.
years ago, during a powerpaper board meeting, it was clear that change was not only required but also quickly approaching. though both operation and product development were both well under control, it was also understood that new investment crucial to the survival of the company and which would increase its value, would ultimately take the company in a new direction.
this new direction meant change of ownership and management. both considerations were met with apprehension by those in the existing apparatus. and, as can be assumed, all subsequent meetings where conducted under a thick air of negative spirit, which, admittedly, i too also contributed. in retrospect, the management of that energy could have been exercised in a better way to create a long term alignment of interests and with less of the fear factor. this would have supported an easier transition period, now currently underway in the form of a kind of rebirth of the company in china, but a much healthy version of it.
western companies actually suffer from such situations more so than chinese companies. this is because western entities have at their disposal many legal tools that can be used to significantly sway and alter the balance of power. chinese culture, conversely, has developed over the years a more balanced communication and favor exchange method which creates more possibilities and better balances the outcome of change.
there’s an expression in english: what goes around, comes around. this means, the spirit of a deed done now, positive or negative, will revisit you again in the future. this is true of the management of energy as well. looking back at twenty-five years of business communication experience brings to mind assorted considerations that further prove the importance of the proper management of energy in the short term, for the benefit of future interaction. i would like to argue that both the positive and negative energy created in a business interaction is certain to follow you and for years to come. there is no time limit. you just never know when you may encounter these same situations or people again in a future transaction of information or money. all this considered, one must ask themselves at every intersection, will the result achieved by creating negative energy be worth the implications and the almost certain impact on future and unrelated cases? again, let's keep in mind that energy, positive and negative will follow you wherever you go.
due to this universal truth, many choose the passive aggressive approach of non-response. they maintain a neutral face, thinking this is the safest way. however, in reality, they are just avoiding a conflict. perhaps this is a good strategy. after all, from the energy point of view it may serve to avoid negativity. however, it also stunts the flow of energy and retards any hope of creating momentum necessary to achieving progress. as some may agree sometimes the calculated use of negative energy can create momentum that can ultimately be transformed into positive energy. a little finesse goes a long way to resolving a conflict amicably and in such a way that leads to progress.
it's all physics in a way. as einstein wrote, “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” the victorious, therefore in my opinion, are those with the talent to effectively manage positive and negative energy as required.
some tips on how to create positive energy in an interaction: first, smile, even if the discussion is by telephone. imagine the good side of each person you meet, understand that each one has an option to become a personal friend in a certain situation. exude confidence and project the same in the one with whom you are speaking by sharing an optimistic point of view. other secrets to success will be shared in future columns.