It’s hard to define charisma because different people have various opinions.
But, they accept that some people have a special ability in interacting with others.
You may have known magnetic people.
It makes you want to spend more time with them.
It may be a public figure you see on TV, your family member, teacher, or your best friend.
What does it mean to be charismatic?
Personal charisma is a collection of social and emotional skills.
Why do you need to create a magnetic personality? Well, it depends on what you want.
Charismatic people have more friends, and it is more easy for them to find a partner.
Charismatic leaders have more success.
Look at Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, J.F. Kennedy…
Charismatic people have an extraordinary ability to connect with people. There is a myth that charismatic people are unique and that you either are born charisma or not.
The truth is anyone can learn how to be more charismatic.
You don’t have to be attractive. You don’t have to change your personality.
What you need is the will to learn the skill of charisma.
So how do you learn charisma?
1. Be Present
You are present when you understand what is going on during the conversation.
Our brains are wired to react to different stimuli like sights, smells, or sounds.
It was critical for our ancestors to pay attention to different details at the same time.
If you find it hard to be alert, don’t worry.
It is normal, we all have difficulties.
The good news is that if you stay present from time to time, you’ll train yourself to be more attentive.
We live in a world when most of the people don’t pay attention to the person in front.
You are conversing with them and most of the time they are looking at their phone.
So, when you’re committed to the conversation, it’s like praising someone.
Look, we cannot fake presence.
Your body language will send a clear message that other people may read and react to.
Three keys of presence are:
1. Attentive listening
2. refraining from interrupting
3. deliberate pausing.
One skill that will make you a charismatic person is listening.
Listening skills can make people feel heard and understood without saying a word.
It will help you understand what the other is feeling.
This gives you the opportunity to create the rapport on a deep, emotional level.
Some people think “letting people talk until it’s my turn”, is enough. But, that’s not enough. Even if the other person is doing all the talking, you can’t let your mind wavering around.
Your lack of concentration and presence will show up on your body language. Also, never interrupt someone, when someone stops you, let them.
Do they have the right to interrupt you? Of course not. But, it’s your obligation to make them feel good.
If you notice he/she is hardly waiting to speak, keep the sentences short and pause so they can jump in.
The more you let them speak, the more they will like you.
How to take a compliment
How do you react to someone who has given you a compliment?
Most of us just say, “Oh, it’s nothing …” But, it doesn’t send a clear message you truly enjoy the compliment.
The next time you take a compliment, try the following steps:
- Absorb and enjoy the compliment
- Let the absorption show in your face
To show they have made an impact.
- Say, “Thank you very much”
You can also thank them for their thoughtfulness or telling them that they’ve made your day.
Make someone feel as if he/she is the most important person in the room.
Think about how you would feel and behave when speaking with a very important person.
You would probably hear everything they say.
Their words may impress you.
Do not try to impress people. Let them impress you. You don’t need to show them how important and perfect you are. You need to make them feel they are perfect. This is true, every human being is important, but some people just don’t realize this fact.
2. Power and Warmth
Being powerful means when you can influence the world around us.
You can show power through intelligence, expertise, money, or physical strength.
It means to use your power to help someone.
Warmth is the goodwill toward others.
You show warmth when you are altruistic, caring, or willing to help.
When you show both warm and power, you will boost your charisma potential.
Research has shown that we check first for power and warmth when we assess other people.
We check if the person has good intentions or if he is able to help.
Empathy is the ability to understand what the other person is feeling.
Empathy is a condition for every kind of relationship to function.
When you show empathy toward someone, you promote trust.
It leads to a more open and genuine conversation.
But, how to be empathetic?
Be curious about strangers- Start a conversation with a stranger.
Observe something from the environment and comment on that.
If you are at a bar or some kind of event, that is not hosted by someone, in particular, you can ask: “What brought you here?”
We encounter strangers every day. The person who guards the building, the waiter, a mutual friend or even people at waiting lines.
Challenge yourself to have a conversation with a stranger every week.
Challenge your prejudices- We all have heard the phrase: “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. Well, we do. We make snap judgments about the people we meet
We have formed this ability from ancestors.
Sometimes we assume about others based on their origin, color, religion, or gender. And trust me on this, most of the time these snap opinions are wrong. Remind yourself of this fact and try to know the person.
Who knows, the person you judged now, might become your best friend.
3. Charismatic Eye Contact
Good eye contact is crucial.
Profound eye contact can have a powerful impact on people.
It conveys empathy, wisdom, and intelligence.
Eye contact is one of the primary ways charismatic people make others feel important.
Fun fact: Intense eye contact can speed up your heart rate and send a hormone called phenylethylamine (PEA), cursing through the bloodstream.
It is the same hormone that makes the phenomena we call love at first sight.
We may have difficulties to keep eye contact because of shyness.
Well, you can fix that by practicing soft and warm eye contact with someone you feel comfortable with.
Charismatic eye contact means you’re keeping a relaxed focus.
When you feel the tension around your eyes, remind yourself to breathe and soften your eye contact.
After practicing for a while, you’ll become more confident in social situations.
4. First impression
As I said above, people judge you in a matter of seconds. First impressions have a long-lasting impact.
Behavioral research has shown that once we make a judgment about someone, we try to prove ourselves correct.
Even though it may be wrong.
So, how to make a great first impression?
The rule is simple:
We connect, hire, buy from people who are like us.
When people are similar in terms of appearance,
Imagine the president wearing a dark coat, white shirt with a tie and a pair of slippers.
It may be a funny scene for a comedy movie, but in real life, he would be locked up in a mental institution.
Wearing the right clothing is crucial for giving a good impression.
Try to adapt the way of dressing based on the place and situation.
If you are going to a job interview, see what others are wearing or ask a friend who has worked there.
A good handshake
A Fortune 500 CEO once said: “When I have to choose between two applicants with similar qualities, I hire the candidate with the better handshake”.
Having a good handshake will help you show authority.
How to give the perfect handshake?
1. Make sure your right hand is free.
2. Don’t hold a soft drink in the hand, because it will make the hand feel clammy.
3. If you are sitting, stand up before shaking someone’s hand.
4. Make eye contact and give a brief warm smile.
5. Keep your hand in a perpendicular position, neither submissive nor dominant.
Now we made a good first impression, gave a great handshake, now it’s time to speak…
Charismatic people know how to start a conversation and make people feel special.
Let’s see how to open a conversation and finish it:
Break the ice
An easy and effective way to start a conversation is by giving a compliment. It may be about what the other person is wearing.
It is a great opener because it transmits warmth and kindness. Continue with an open-ended question, such as: “What’s the story behind it?”
The word story has a powerful effect because people love stories.
Another question to break the ice with is, “Where are you from?”, the answer will encourage more talking.
You can also ask, “What was it like growing up there?”.
Try to ask open-ended questions. In contrast, avoid closed questions because it makes difficult to continue the conversation.
It’s also very important to focus on positive topics.
People will associate you with the feelings that the conversation generates.
When he/she asks a question, use this technique: Answer the question with a fact, add an opinion, and redirect the question to them.
Example: She asks you: “Where do you live?” “I live in New York” [Fact], “It’s a beautiful city [personal opinion]”, “What do you think?”[turn the conversation]
Remember, all the conversation is about them.
“Talk to a man about himself, and he will listen for hours”, said Benjamin Disraeli.
When you are speaking, you should use the word “you” more than “I”.
Exit the conversation with grace
Being a charismatic conversationalist means that people will enjoy being around you.
In fact, the more charismatic you are, the harder it will be to escape from your “newfound fans”.
One of the easiest ways to exit is to have a reason for doing so. When you are “on duty”, people will not expect you to spend too much time.
Another way to exit with grace is to offer something of value:
Information- A book, an article, or a website you think will find it useful.
Wait until the other person has finished the sentence and say:
“You know, based on what you’ve said, you should check this (book, article, website). Can you give me your e-mail, Facebook address, and I will send you the link. It was a pleasure meeting you”.
A person- Introduce him/her to a person whom you know. If they agreed to meet someone in the room, you can say, “Let me introduce you,” and bring them together.
When you offer value to someone, they will feel good and warm feelings toward you.
Don’t wait too long to end a conversation. After you leave, don’t worry about what you should have said and you didn’t.
It is not what you have said, but how people felt with you.
“The Charisma Myth” by Olivia Fox Cabane
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