Sometimes we have a lot of natural enthusiasm, warmth, and energy. This flows outward from us and makes us personable and friendly. The rapport with others seems to build all on its own.

Other days, not so much.

But we still want the results, right? We still want meetings where we forge relationships and give the impression that we genuinely care about the other person or people. How do we do that when it seems like even putting on a smile takes all the energy in the world?

First, an acknowledgment: very few things take as much energy as pretending to have energy that you don’t. That will drain you like a deer tick, sapping what little strength you have. At best, you maintain the facade but you fail to retain anything and you leave feeling more drained than when you began. At worst, the facade cracks.

So don’t pretend.

Honesty is a marvelous substitute for energy. A cracked facade is repulsive, but deliberately letting your guard down creates a rapport; the other person sees that they can let theirs down, too. “Thanks so much for meeting today. I want to apologize in advance if I’m a touch slower taking notes today; my kids were sick so I was up most of the night. But meeting with you was important to me, so I’m running on two cups of coffee.”

You don’t have to always be “on.” You also don’t have to signal or indicate your dedication – you’re allowed to just say it directly. “Meeting with you is important to me” is as good (if not better!) than wearing a thousand-watt smile if you’re running on a sixty-watt battery.

And when you do that – when you let yourself be honest with people – something marvelous tends to happen. You actually do tend to get a little more energy. As soon as the battery-draining burden of faking it is lifted, you get the opportunity to just let the natural flow of what you’re doing refill you.

Because this all assumes that you do genuinely care about the outcome, about the relationship with the other person. If you do, then working towards that will naturally give you a little lift – enough for a smile at least, even if it’s somewhat less than a thousand watts.

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