Those who wield power and influence do everything they can to make people feel relaxed.
They don’t enjoy making others squirm; nor do they get a rise out of watching people sweat. They learned long ago that when people feel safe enough to let down their guard it helps them produce the very best they have to give.
The trick to putting people at ease is pre-empting what they might need (it might be as simple as a glass of water) and how they might feel (nervous, flustered, unsure).
Find people you admire who do exactly this and learn from them. Watching someone put somebody else at ease is like witnessing a little ray of sunshine, especially when it’s not for any ulterior motive but simply because it’s a cool thing to do.
I once sat in on an interview with a Power Player who was looking to fill a junior position on her team.
This young man who was interviewing for the job was absolutely terrified. He tripped over the chair, dropped his papers and was nearly apoplectic by the time the interview had begun.
The Power Player decided to tell him a story about going to a fancy restaurant with her boss and walking out of the bathroom with her skirt tucked into her underpants. When she got back from the ladies’ room to the table, her boss leaned in tactfully to tell her.
It was a funny story and a kind gesture, and the young man being interviewed relaxed immediately; his mishaps seemed like little league stuff compared to the skirt-in-undies incident.