What the hell is charisma? Why do some people exude it, while others simply don’t? Could it be their clothes or their presentation skills? Is it the complete image that they project?
Are people born charismatic? Or is charisma learned, like any other skill?
I have struggled with these questions since my first leadership position. For many years, I thought that charisma was simply a by-product of being attractive or even a special ability that came with success.
In recent years, I’ve come to understand that charisma is much more tangible than I ever thought.
So, what is charisma then? Put simply, charisma is a result of all the things that you do. Below are 7 things you can do to become more charismatic – assuming you are intentional about doing each one.
1. Make a habit of listening – people are attracted to those that let them talk.
Listening is a skill; listening to understand is a superpower. However, this can be a difficult skill to develop. A rule I find useful is to not offer advice, unless asked. Offering advice becomes about you and phrases like “this is what I would do in that situation…” can be seen as self serving. Instead, try asking questions of the other person to understand how they feel about a topic, or a specific situation and let them work out the solution. By doing this, the person on the other end of the conversation will feel heard – something charismatic people can always manage to do.
2. Don’t talk rubbish – people grow tired of others who speak for the sake of speaking.
Gossip and rumours can cheapen your presence, so a great way to seem more charismatic is by only speaking when you have something important to say. “Important” means that your words will matter or will assist the other person. Remember the age old saying “familiarity breeds contempt”- becoming too familiar with others, through joking and horseplay, will diminish what there is to find out about you. In some small way, charisma is fuelled by another person’s need to connect all the dots to understand what makes you tick.
3. Be engaged and in the moment – attention is the scarcest resource, so give yours freely.
When you walk into a room, whether it’s at a party, a meeting, or coffee with a friend, you must resist the urge to check your phone. A person’s attention is the scarcest resource on the planet and people will be fascinated by a person who gives them their full attention. Leave your phone in your pocket, turn off your smart watch notifications, don’t open your laptop or glance at the screen. Immerse yourself in the other human. By doing this you have already set yourself apart from most of the modern population and others will remember you for it.
4. Build a reputation of giving – don’t look for what you can get from others.
If you walk through life looking to freely give your time, knowledge, and networks, you will develop a reputation as someone who is generous. In turn, this will reinforce healthy relationships. The great thing about having a strong network of healthy relationships is that they build your reputation for you. These individuals will sing your praises behind your back and create more traction for you to be seen as charismatic. For every person that you help, three more are going to hear about it and you will build a good reputation, based on the value that you offer others.
5. Project a positive attitude – everyone wants to work happy and enthusiastic people.
Positivity is not only a leadership superpower, but also a prerequisite for charismatic people. Having a positive attitude is contagious. The approach you take to any given situation and the words that you use to engage with others really matters. Developing a “glass half full attitude” is simply a matter of controlling your perspectives and developing a bias towards positivity. This will naturally make you more charming to others.
6. Master positive self-talk – Project confidence not arrogance.
Confidence equates to success. Truly successful people believe in themselves and their abilities, so much so that many psychologists believe that positive self-talk is one of the primary prerequisites to high performance. Learning positive self-talk reduces the effects of sadness and depression, guards against stress and can lift your performance. Charismatic people have mastered positive self-talk and project an air of confidence.
7. Don’t take yourself, or others, too seriously – Project a calm, controlled demeanour.
How seriously you take yourself is about the amount of control you try to take over things that are uncontrollable in your life—and how you respond to occurrences outside of your authority. Control the controllable and quietly observe those things outside of your control. Not taking yourself too seriously doesn’t mean you lack self-respect; it just means that you are comfortable with situations you can’t control. It also means that you know who you are, can adjust to change, are open to play and enjoy exploration.
Charisma isn’t as mysterious as some people would have you believe, but it is more than just giving a great speech, wearing trendy outfits, and smiling. Charisma is how you project yourself and ultimately how you are perceived by others. You can develop charisma by working on the art of listening, by engaging with others and by giving your attention and resources. Charisma is manifested in your confidence and projected through your actions and language. By intentionally taking these actions, anyone can become more charismatic to influence and inspire those around you.