Make Slow, Relaxed Movements
The first thing that you see from Tommy is that he has slow, relaxed movements. When he isn’t physically fighting, he’s almost never in a rush. The way he moves instantly gives you the sense that he’s above feeling intimidated. When you move slowly and comfortably in a situation where most people are stressed, it shows that you don’t feel scared or pressured.
Hold Eye Contact, Even During Conflict
Along with the slow movement, there’s a second body language habit that helps Tommy appear confident: Tommy is comfortable holding eye contact even during conflict. The one mistake you could make with this is trying to hold eye contact always: this can escalate the tension if neither of you is willing to break. So the goal isn’t to never break eye contact; it’s just to know what your behavior signals to other people.
But Know What Eye Contact Signals
Hold eye contact if you want to show you aren’t intimidated; look down if your priority is to de-escalate; and if you want to diffuse the situation without projecting fear of discomfort, you can hold eye contact for three to five seconds and then break to the side instead of down.
Be Non-Reactive To Hostility; But Genuinely
Tommy’s ability to command respect in moments of conflict comes from the fact that he’s not reactive to hostility. Being non-reactive shows you feel confident in your ability to handle whatever is happening: it’s hard not to respect someone who keeps their cool in situations where most people would lose it. Of course, the goal here isn’t to fake that you’re OK while freaking out on the inside: it’s to cultivate a genuine deep internal confidence.
Be As Big As Your Audience
One more quick body language habit you should steal from Tommy if you want to command attention, specifically in large groups: be as big as your audience. Scale up your hand gestures when you’re speaking to more people.
Show Conviction With Your Words
The next way you can command respect is by focusing on how you speak. The first thing you notice about Tommy when he speaks is that his word choice shows conviction. Specifically, when he talks about his plans for the future he doesn’t say “I hope to” or “I want to”, but “I will”.
Show Conviction With Your Tone
Beyond word choice, you can show conviction with just your tone. Many people do the opposite, ending their statements in an upward inflection, making them sound like questions. This gives the impression that you’re unsure of yourself. So, if you wanna show conviction with just your tone, end your statements in a downward inflection.
Speak Slowly And Use Pauses
Similar to his slow body language, Tommy also has a slow speaking cadence and uses pauses between words to hold attention. The pause is the moment when you’re not speaking, but ironically it’s the moment you can pull people in. Tommy does this by pausing when you most want to hear what he has to say. You may worry that speaking slowly and pausing a lot will lead to people cutting you off: the way you can prevent this isn’t by rushing to finish or giving up on your thought halfway through, but by continuing to speak in that same slow speaking cadence until you at least finish your sentence.
Use Carrot-Stick Motivation
One of Tommy’s defining features is that he wields tremendous power over people using carrot-stick motivation. Now, obviously, we don’t want to be threatening to murder people, so how on earth can we actually apply this to our own life? Well, let’s say you want a raise or a promotion from work: a lot of people would go in and say “hey, boss, I’ve been working here a long time, and I would really like a raise, can I have more money?”. Very focused on “I”, not very persuasive.
Carrot-Stick Thinking Done Right
How could you instead apply carrot-stick thinking? You could say “hey, boss, I feel like I can add more value to the company and play at a higher level; what would you need to see from me in the next three months to promote me?” Work with your boss to create a concrete list. Then, nail everything on that list. At the same time go out and get other job offers. In 3 months you can show all the value created for your boss (carrot) and, if they back out from the agreement, you can tell them that you want to stay, but you have other offers that pay more (that’s the stick).
And Take It All With A Pinch Of Salt
When talking about why Tommy Shelby commands so much respect that he doesn’t have to shout or raise his voice, we must remember that Tommy either knows what people desperately want and can give it to them or he knows what people desperately fear and can prevent it. So his quiet words carry massive weight.
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