Summer of 1886 in London.
It was a tough battle between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli for 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.
Many 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 daily, and you’ll become charismatic.
Three core elements representing charismatic behavior are presence, power, and warmth.
One of Bill Clinton’s characteristics is that he pays full attention.
Don’t think pretending you are paying attention will give you some points.
Your facial expressions will be a split second delayed. The human mind can read facial expressions in 17 milliseconds.
Our body language will send a clear message when we are not present. 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 about.
When you increase the projection of power and warmth, you increase 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 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 has annoyed you lately.
Open your eyes as soon as you feel that emotion. 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 a 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 close eye contact.
He is also expressive with his eyebrows. Every time he makes an important point, his eyebrows flash.
3:23 The woman nods her head and agrees 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 means he is nearly done.
Sometimes Clinton turns back for one last look, which 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.
Bill Clinton can make people feel like they are only in the room. When someone is paying full attention to you is a strong feeling.
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Photo by Monika Flueckiger at Flickr