Soft power isn’t a new concept, but with the changes society has faced in the last two decades – it has taken on a different form. Soft Power has become a necessary solution to global conflict and a crucial skill in sales and business. As it garners more interest, women are presented with an opportunity to thrive, because soft power is so closely in line with the way we naturally interact with the world and make an impact.
Women are driven by connectivity and empathy. These fit right in with the definition of soft power. Hard power, on the other hand leans on a level of disconnect and distance. Sympathy and empathy are considered to be more feminine qualities because they require an emotional connection. Innately, women seek emotional connection and a sense of community. Indra Adnan says, “right from an early age, young women start to depend on relationships as the thing that they need to cultivate to have influence rather than hard power.” We’re taught to engage with the world and other people, seeking an exchange of understanding and a mutual openness which serve what we aim to get out of our lives socially and professionally.
Sales and marketing have shifted away from the “sell, sell, sell” model, towards a culture of building relationships and encouraging dialogue. Deals aren’t closed at the very first interaction – both sides have to understand each other and build trust. This is impossible in a culture that’s driven by numbers, as masculine leadership tends to be. Soft power is built on sharing values and focusing more on the personal – so names over numbers prevail in within that field.
When you move into soft power you’re opening dialogue and creating what Adnan calls a “corridor of influence” where the need for mutual benefit guides the actions taken. This becomes necessary when the world faces conflicts and issues that need a special grasp to produce lasting solutions. Soft power is the ability to solve problems without using force and rather relying on open dialogue. It’s taking a diplomatic route before a military action, choosing to use the power of conversation before taking a hard-handed approach. The benefit of this? It creates solutions with lasting positive impacts. Dropping a bomb can solve the immediate problem but the devastation that it would leave behind would make that victory hollow. Taking a soft power approach means connecting with that community and finding a solution that still puts their needs at the top of the lost of priorities.
Soft power also depends on openness and self-understanding. It’s being so comfortable in your individuality that you can be open to someone else’s. Openness is the beginning of successful dialogue and conversation. Women are able to achieve openness by understanding the value of learning from someone else. We’re open because it’s necessary if we want to build strong and lasting relationships and because people are more likely to share their humanity with us in a positive space, where they feel heard and valued.