Are You Delightfully Disturbing or Painfully Annoying?

Ever since I was a kid, being a disturbance has always been one of my favorite pastimes.

And I don’t mean cruising my pimped out ’67 Impala down Washington Avenue bumping a Dr. Dre record at testicle-rattling volume.

Not that kind of disturbance.

DID YOU KNOW: The word “disturb” comes from the Latin emotere – the same derivative as the word “emotion”?


That’s all you’re doing when you’re being a disturbance: Evoking emotion. Interrupting the quiet. Unsettling the peace. Upsetting the mental landscape. Could be positive, negative or neutral. Doesn’t matter. Like a good pot of soup, the ingredients are equally as important as the consistency with which you stir.

Today we’re going to talk about how to be delightfully disturbing without being painful annoying:

1. Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of your next meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.

Then, you come out of nowhere when the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” You raise your hand and say: “I had an observation…” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.

Then, you articulate your idea. And even if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of Barack Obama, “Power grows through prudent use.” Does your tongue have teeth marks on it?

2. I respectfully disagree. The power of this statement is inversely related to the number of other people in the room courageous enough to challenge the speaker. That’s why it’s especially powerful during a meeting with your superiors.

My suggestion: Don’t save your opinion for later. You may never get a chance to voice it. Be a relentless boat rocker. A courageous wave maker. A persistent envelope pusher. They’ll change your job title to DOD: Director of Disturbances. Are you willing to be the only contrarian in the room?

3. Laugh out loud – loudly. My friend Neen James has the most contagious laugh on the planet. Every time her funny bone takes a hit, the people around her are immediately disturbed in the best way possible way. It’s truly a sight to see. And Neen taught me that too many people get into the habit of suppressing their laughter, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. Particularly if they have a loud or unique laugh.

“Stop suppressing your chuckles,” she suggests. “Make it loud and don’t worry about who hears you. Laughter is contagious.”

You don’t have to wait and see if the king laughs first. Nobody is going to think you’re a terrible person if you let it out. All they’re going to do is start wondering what’s so darn funny. Mission accomplished. When was the last time you purposely constricted your laughter in public?

4. Learn to sniff out falsehood. There’s fine art to calling bullshit on people in a compassionate (yet challenging) way. I find that posing penetrating, thought-provoking questions is an effective practice for doing so. Try these: What evidence do you have to support that belief? Why is that important to you? What lies are those excuses guarding?

Interestingly, calling bullshit is a lot like yoga: Whichever posture hurts the most is the one you need the most. Similarly, the people who become the most disturbed when you call them out are the ones who probably need it the most. How acute is your nose for falsehood?

5. Maintain a constant posture of challenging the process. Be the greasy wrench in the rusty gears of the status quo by asking, “Why do we have to do it that way?” Ask that question over and over until the majority answer is, “We don’t.” You’ll discover that when you show up in full voice and speak the unspokens – you send people on mental journeys.

And even if they didn’t want go to there in the first place, once they arrive, they’ll be glad you took them there. Or they’ll have you terminated. Either way, it’s gonna be a great weekend. But only if you’re willing to ask a question that will positively upset someone’s whole day. Might be worth it. What unwritten rules are driving you crazy?

6. Make people confront you, as well as themselves. The two questions at stake are: How do people experience you? And, how do people experience themselves when they’re with you? The best confrontational strategy is to lovingly challenge people to quit escaping reality. Even a gentle suggestion can be devastatingly effective.

For example, while listening to someone complaining about his problems, you might offer the following: “Dave, I wonder if that’s what your boss (actually) said, or what YOU interpreted your boss as having communicated.” Be playfully terrorizing. Let some truth slip, make people squirm in their seats and jolt them out of their petty preoccupations.

You’ll find that the discomfort of self-confrontation will disturb people into action. Are you a putting up a verbal mirror so others might experience themselves as you do?

7. Pursue your passion publicly. In the book Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Butts, Peter McWilliams write, “People don’t like to see others pursuing their dreams – it reminds them how far from living their own dreams they are. In talking you out of your dreams, they are taking themselves back into their comfort zone.”

Similarly, Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art: “When people see you living your authentic life, it drives them crazy because they know they’re not living their own.”

The point is: You can disturb people without even saying a word. All you have to do is validate your existence and fulfill your mandate, thereby reaching your quota of usefulness for each day. Just make sure you do so in broad daylight, where nobody can miss it. How could you shine your light so bright that even the people who look away (still) feel it?

8. Transform your emotional risk paradigm. Start by making the conscious choice to develop a working relationship with your emotional reality. Next, remind yourself that practicing courageousness of heart produces gorgeousness of spirit.

Then, remember the trifecta: (1) Brand your honesty, (2) Leverage your vulnerability to earn people’s trust, and (3) Fully integrate your humanity into your profession. Your presence will become so emotionally attractive that it will become remarkable. And what’s remarkable is disturbing. What emotions or states of being do you need to be able to access for long-term success?

9. Wherever you go, compel people to make a choice. Jesus always struck me as a delightfully disturbing man. Wherever he went, he created a crisis by compelling people to do something. His demanding vision asked people to commit. To drop everything. To make an immediate decision. “Come, follow me,” he said. “Develop deep faith, put your body on the line and give up all that is secondary.”

Wow. That would disturb the hell out of me. I wonder what would happen if you set a goal for this year to become a more crisis-producing person. Do you love people enough to upset them?

REMEMBER: When you delightfully disturb people, you constructively challenge them.

Go evoke some emotion.
Go interrupt some quiet.
Go unsettle some peace.

Be a disturbance.

Now if you’ve excuse me, my ’67 Impala is waiting outside to take me to today’s speech.

Are you delightfully disturbing or painfully annoying?

For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

Five words that will change your business forever:

“Who was that masked man?”

Name that show!

Of course: The Lone Ranger. Even a Gen-Xer like me knows that.

And just imagine. Wouldn’t it be cool if customers said something like that after YOU left?

Curiosity. Intrigue. Fascination. Amazement.

That’s what those five words represent. The Lone Ranger was so cool, so unforgettable, and so distinctive that when he left, people wanted more.

SO, HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

HERE’S THE SECRET: Whatever change occurs to the room is a tangible representation of how your character, actions, words, reputation and personality have been experienced by the people around you.

The following list explores several possibilities of how a room might change when you walk out of it. As you explore these examples, ask yourself which of them best applies to you, or which ones you’d LIKE to apply to you:

1. When you walk out of a room, are people genuinely sad to see you go? In a 2009 Daily Show interview with Michael J. Fox, Jon Stewart wrapped the conversation up with the following compliment, “Michael, when you walk into a room, everybody feels better.” Wow. Sure is inspiring to see someone have that kind of affect on people. And I imagine that if YOU did, your career would surely skyrocket.

Unfortunately, some individuals are the opposite: Everybody feels better when they walk OUT of a room. And the silent dialogue becomes, “I’m so glad she finally left,” “I thought she’d NEVER leave!” or, worst of all, “Thank God that guy’s gone. Now we can relax.”

This is not good. If your leaving the room results in people’s postures relaxing as they breathe a hefty sigh of relief, you’re doing something wrong. If your leaving the room allows people to (finally) resume their conversations, you’re doing something wrong. Do you bring drama or peace into people’s lives?

2. When you walk out of a room, does the population of that room decrease? That’s the epitome of leadership: People want to walk out of the room and follow you, even if they have no idea where you’re going. That’s also a surefire sign of presence: People just assume go home now that you’ve left the party.

Because you’re inspiring. Because you’re trustworthy. Because you’re fun to talk to. And because you’re followable. I wonder what you would have to think, say, do or BE differently in order to make that happen. How are you leaving an imprint on everyone you meet?

3. When you walk out of a room, does the temperature go up five degrees? This reminds me of SNL’s Debbie Downer, brilliantly played by Rachel Dratch. Her cynical character’s sole purpose was to interrupt social gatherings to voice negative opinions and pronouncements. She immediately sucked the energy level out of the room like a Hoover vacuum. And ever time she did so; the classic “Wa-Wa” trumpet sound effect would play.

Are you like that? Someone who persistently adds bad news or negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around you? I hope not. Because Debbie Downers are avoided like the plague. And when they walk out of a room, people are GLAD to see them go. Because negatively rarely looks good on anybody. What is the temperature of your presence?

4. When you walk out of a room, do people ask about you? This brings us back to The Lone Ranger. His departure stimulated curiosity, intrigue, fascination and amazement. Now, obviously you can’t expect to achieve such memorable presence every time you leave a room. What you CAN do is increase the probability of people asking about you by practicing tenets of approachability.

First: Be The Observed, not The Observer.
Second: Create Points of Dissonance.
Third: Position yourself as a resource.
And fourth: Build Name Equity.

No silver bullets, horses or sidekicks necessary. Are you buzz-worthy?

5. When you walk out of a room, does it get quieter? Meet my friend Neen James. She’s a productivity consultant, originally from Australia. And while it’s hard to explain in writing, she has the most contagious, smile-inducing laugh you’ll ever hear. She’s also the type of person who can find humor in anything.

So, when you’re hanging out with her, you get to hear that famous laugh A LOT. Which, in turn, makes you laugh more. Which makes her laugh more. Which makes you laugh more. And the endless cycle of fun begins. Combine that with Neen’s optimistic, no-worries attitude and upbeat energy, when SHE walks out of the room, the volume goes from eleven to six. Like clockwork. Which makes sense, since she IS a productivity consultant. How fun are you pereceived as being?

6. When you walk out of a room, how do you leave people? Maybe people start taking action. This means you were inspiring, interesting and actionable. Maybe people swim in mutual confusion of having no idea what the hell you just said. This means you need to speak with more Meaningful Concrete Immediacy.

Or, maybe people spring to life. This means you spoke in a passionate, challenging and empowering manner. The choice is yours. How do you leave people?

7. When you walk out of a room, are new people connected that otherwise wouldn’t have met? Networkers work the room. They deal their deck of business cards to everyone they encounter in a superficial, flaky, campaign-trail way. They’re spotted from a mile away and reek of the stench of self-centered overexertion.

Connectors, on the other hand, help the room work itself. They find people that need to meet, use accomplishment-based introductions, and then get the heck out of the way. But here’s the catch: They can only be spotted from up close. Because that’s the nature of their relationships: Close. That’s how people are draw to them: Close. Are you networking or connecting?

8. When you walk out of a room, does your spirit remain? Lastly, this suggests you don’t just want people to remember you, but to be positively influenced BY you. “Noticeable in your absence,” as I like to say. And the ideal situation is, people will start to patiently and excitedly wait until they are given the privilege of being blessed with your presence again.

Not because you’re always perfect. Not because you’re always in performance mode. Rather, because you always make people feel essential by helping them fall in love with themselves. How do YOU leave people?

REMEMBER: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a difference too.

Ultimately, it’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people TO life AT the party.

It’s about leaving behind a silver bullet trail of uncracked character that makes people wonder, “Who was that masked man?”

When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

For the list called, “19 Ways to be the ONE Person at Your Next Conference Everybody Remembers,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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