Charisma is not inborn. On the contrary, personal charisma can be developed. You do not have to be a natural extrovert or physically attractive to be charismatic. In fact, charisma itself may be the factor that will make you more attractive, and some can activate charisma like a flick of a switch. Charisma makes you Lykeeble.
Marilyn Monroe once blended in with a crowd on a busy New York subway. Nobody noticed her. When she surfaced onto the busy New York streets, she asked the photographer accompanying her, “Do you want to see her?” She then fluffed her hair and struck a pose. Suddenly, everybody recognized her. She can easily switch from Norma Jean Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe in an instant.
High charisma level makes people trust you and it makes you more influential. Have you ever wondered why leaders of influential organizations are charismatic? Think of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You never see a leader of an influential company throw tantrums or rant online. If you had, they probably are not leaders anymore today, or they are viewed as antagonists and are distrusted.
Financial success also relies heavily on charisma. Research at the Carnegie Institute of Technology reveals that even in a highly technical field such as engineering, only about 15 percent of a person’s financial success is due to technical knowledge and 85 percent is due to skills in human engineering, that is, the ability to lead and influence people.
Dealing with people is one of the hardest things you will face – whether in business, work, friendship, or family. You cannot escape it. Even if you lock yourself in a room and find online work where you do not have to face anybody in person, you will still have to deal with people, albeit, not face to face. If you are into sales, having a charismatic character will help you close more deals.
To develop charisma, you have to develop the three Charismatic Behaviors that affect charisma: presence, power, and warmth. Presence is the ability to listen intently to another person. Power is having the expertise in a field, the ability to influence, wealth, high social status, or even attractiveness. Warmth is having the goodwill toward others. Among the three, I find ‘presence’ to be the most important, therefore I have more lists on how to exhibit ‘presence’ compared to the other two.
If you develop the Three Charismatic Behaviors, your body language will automatically act in accordance with it. People can detect or judge you through your body language. It is said that communication is 60% body language, 30% tone of voice, and 10% words. Language is relatively a new “invention.” Before language was developed, humans interact through body language and tone of voice. This may be the reason why subconsciously or not, people can detect or judge you in some way even if you have not spoken with each other. This may be the reason why you Lyke or hate a person even if you have not spoken before.
Developing the Three Charismatic Behaviors
– If on a first meeting with a person, make sure to remember the name and mention it every once in a while. The person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to that person, in any language. Repeating the person’s name will also help you to remember it.
– Concentrate on the person talking. Listen to every word. Understand the person. When you show presence, the person will feel listened to, valued, and respected, and they will reciprocate the feeling.
– Look the person in the eye when they speak. This may seem uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to it, it will feel normal to you.
– Make sure to smile while listening. Looking at someone in the eye for extended periods without smiling may seem hostile. Do not make them get the wrong impression.
– Slowly nod your head up and down slowly every once in a while when listening. This gestures that you are intently listening.
– Mirror people’s emotions. If they feel happy, feel happy for them. If they feel sad, sympathize with them.
– Exhibit the proper body gestures. Do not cross your arms or lean back. Crossing the arms may seem like you are being defensive and closed minded. Leaning back may give them the impression that you are disinterested. You can read more about body gestures in this article.
– Do not interrupt the speaker. Let them finish what they have to say. Be patient. Pause for about 2 seconds after they speak before starting what you have to say.
– If conversing within a group and somebody gets interrupted, let the interrupting person talk and ask the interrupted person to continue what he has to say afterwards.
– While ‘power’ that is referred to here is about having something to be proud about, like money, physical strength, authority, or physical attractiveness, there is one power that each of us can be proud of – the show of kindness to everyone. By showing kindness, people will be obligated to reciprocate kindness to you. Otherwise, they will be seen as arrogant, ill-mannered, or snobbish. I believe kindness is power, since showing kindness can make you influence others.
– To show power, you have to be confident. Whatever the situation is, trick your mind to be confident in yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all fix to battle anxiety. You have to find out for yourself how you can condition your mind to be confident. I find thinking “Will this matter after a day, a week, a month?” or “If I do nothing, expect the result to be nothing” to be effective for me.
– If you still find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, remember you are not the only one who experienced, or will be experiencing this situation. Every person has once in a while experienced this kind of discomfort and they turned out fine.
– Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Everybody makes them. If you do make embarrassing mistakes, act like it did not happen or make a witty joke out of it if possible. Divert your attention out of the embarrassment and concentrate on what you have to do in the first place.
– Do not over-analyze things. Stop it with the what-ifs; “What if it does not work out? What if I embarrass myself or if I make the wrong decision?” This will reflect on your body gestures and people will notice your lack of confidence. Just do what you have to do.
– If you are about to face a crowd, condition yourself beforehand. It may be through listening to relaxing or motivating music of your choice. You may also arrive at the venue early, familiarize yourself with it, and do a mock performance. Remember that even the best performers experience stage fright and they have their own way of dealing with it.
– Goodwill towards others has to be genuine. If you fake it, people will notice it sooner or later through your body gestures, and you will not exhibit charisma.
– Learn to let go of differences and past arguments. When you hold a grudge against someone, it will show on your body language, thus, sabotaging your charisma. Malachy McCourt said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
– Practice liking everybody. I find telling myself “I like this guy/girl” to everyone I come across with effective. I do it anywhere I am surrounded by people – parks, buildings, stores, streets, and I feel a positive difference within me. Or you can look for small likable qualities among people – I like that he has shiny shoes, I like her accent, or I like the child’s musical toy.
– Never judge people. I believe people are inherently good. There may be some reason that we do not see why they did something we do not approve of. If we could put ourselves in their shoes, we would understand why they did it, and we might have done the same. I remember a story from Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, about a man with obnoxious kids who boarded a train. The kids were irritating other passengers and the man did nothing and he was just indifferent. Turns out, the man just lost his wife an hour ago, and the kids did not know about it.
– Be more tolerant of others’ mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Remember that if you show genuine goodwill even to people who made mistakes against you, sooner or later, they will realize their mistakes. But if you show hostility, even if the person realizes the mistake, he will not back down, reciprocate the hostility, and try to justify his actions.
– Charisma cannot be faked. If you try to fake it, it will show on your body language. If you develop the Three Charismatic Behaviors, charisma will automatically show on your gestures. Charisma comes from within and emanates through your actions.
I cannot claim that I have perfected the Charismatic Behaviors, but I always try to improve myself each day, and that is the beauty of it; always have an aim for the next day. I realize that not only did people around me notice the changes, but I feel better, happier, and worry-free inside.
If you would like to read a more in-depth discussion about charisma, I highly recommend reading the book “The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism” by Olivia Fox Cabane. Thank you to my friend Ow En for recommending this book to me.
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