Summer of 1886 in London.
It was a tough battle between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli for the post of the prime minister of the United Kingdom.
The winner would rule half of the world.
In the last week before the election, both men took the same woman out to dinner. The press asked her what impressions the rivals had made.
She said, “After dining with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest person in England. But after dining with Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest person in England.”
Guess who won the election?
Conscious or not, charismatic people make other people feel special.
One charisma myth is that you have to be good looking.
Lots of charismatic leaders like Fidel Castro or Napoleon Bonaparte were far from being attractive.
Winston Churchill was not handsome, and sure he was not known for his sex appeal. Yet, he was one of the most influential leaders in human history.
Use charisma tools on a daily basis and you’ll become charismatic.
Three core elements that represent charismatic behavior are presence, power, and warmth.
One of Bill Clinton’s characteristics is that he pays full attention.
Don’t think if you pretend like you are paying attention will give you some points.
Your face expressions will be a split second delayed.
The human mind can read facial expressions in 17 milliseconds.
When we are not present our body language will send a clear message.
And other people can read or react at least on a subconscious level.
You should pay attention to what is going on rather than counting your thoughts.
Someone is dominant when he can affect the world.
You show power through money, expertise, sheer physical strength or high social status.
It is the goodwill to help someone. The warmth can tell us that the other person will use that power in our favor.
You show warmth when you are sympathetic or altruistic.
When we meet someone for the first time, we seek clues to find power or warmth.
We also make assumptions about them:
Expensive clothes-Assume wealth
Friendly body language-Assume good intentions
Confident posture- We assume that the person has something to be confident
When you increase the projection of power and warmth, you increase the level of charisma.
Power and warmth are necessary for charisma.
We all have seen massive individuals that are powerful, but not charismatic. Often they may come across as arrogant or cold.
Someone who shows warmth but is not powerful can be likable but not charismatic. It may appear as overeager, or be trying too hard to please others.
To understand how your eyes look when you are having a conversation, do this exercise.
1- Find a room with a big mirror where you won’t be disturbed for several minutes. Think about a situation that annoyed you lately.
As soon as you feel that emotion, open your eyes. You will note the tension around your eyes and narrowness.
2- Close your eyes and think about something that warms you. You can imagine someone you love or a pleasant situation.
The moment you experience the same feeling open your eyes. That’s what warms look like.
3- One more time close your eyes.
Try to remember a situation when you were feeling confident. When you received an award or when you heard fantastic news. Open your eyes and note how they look. That is confident look.
Now let’s see how these elements come together in real life.
In October 1992 the presidential Bush-Clinton-Perot debate took place at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
0:03 Bush checked his watch when the voter talked. Presence? Ah, finish quick.
Also, most of the time while answering he wasn’t concentrated on her.
He was looking at the audience, moderator and camera.
2:30 Clinton comes closer than Bush while rephrasing the question.
He is talking to her and 95% of the time he doesn’t take the eyes off the woman. The eye contact is clear, unwavering and calm
Then he is being empathic and understanding while maintaining
He is also expressive with the eyebrows. Every time he makes an important point his eyebrows flash.
3:23 The woman is nodding her head and is agreeing with everything he is saying.
There are two other candidates and millions of viewers and, you feel like there are only two in the room
Bill has all the attention towards her.
3:47 You know you lose.
4:01 He shifts his weight while talking which gives the message he is nearly done
Sometimes Clinton turns back for one last look, and this makes people feel special
Three quick tips to gain an instant charisma boost in conversation:
1- Lower the intonation of your voice at the end of your sentences
2- Reduce how quickly and how often you nod
3- Pause for two full seconds before you speak.
Conclusion: You are not born with charisma. It is a skill, and like every skill, you need to learn and practice until you become magnetic
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Photo by Monika Flueckiger at Flickr