You, Too, Can Be Charismatic

Charisma is the quality that draws us to certain people. It’s often said to be mysterious and ineffable, but the truth is that charisma can be learned. If you want to attract, charm, and influence the people around you, you can develop the skills that make you more likable. Charisma rests on three distinct behaviors, according to the experts. Once you understand the impact of these behaviors, you can take simple steps to break through your social anxieties and really connect with others.

Presence involves living in the moment and keeping your attention focused while you’re speaking to someone.

Tip: When you realize your attention is drifting as you’re talking with someone, you can refocus and strengthen your presence by centering yourself. Pay attention to your breathing, the subtle sensations in your body or the sounds in the environment.

Power involves removing self-doubt and overcoming the fear that you’re not worthy of the position you hold. Assure yourself that you belong and that you are valuable and interesting to others.

Tip: The fear of being found out—the impostor syndrome—is stronger as you climb the ladder of success. Winning higher status is not the answer. Getting rid of your self-imposed doubt is the key.

Warmth involves radiating kindness and acceptance. People who excel at this trait can make even those they’ve just met feel as though they are close friends.

Tip: While you can practice improving presence and power, working on projecting warmth is trickier. Try this technique: think of someone for whom you feel great affection and then identify what you enjoy most about spending time with them.

Holding that thought can change your body chemistry in seconds and send the kind of signal that others interpret as the warmth they link to high-charisma people. You can do this exercise before you meet someone or while you’re listening to their conversation.

Most charmers combine one or two traits. 

Charisma usually doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all package but is more often found in different combinations of the Big Three traits. The most charismatic people you know generally will demonstrate only one, or perhaps two, of these traits. Some people are alpha types who radiate confidence and success, while others exude charm through warmth and generosity. It’s rare to find someone who succeeds in all three.

The most charismatic people in a room are those who are good storytellers, according to the experts. While well-liked people often are the most effective public speakers, charisma goes beyond just being engaging and humorous. We find people charismatic not just because they can tell a good story, but also because they make people feel better about themselves. Charmers have a knack for making others feel like the center of attention.

Shifting your focus from yourself to another person is the quickest way to be more likable. Make the effort to stop doubting your own self-worth and concentrate instead on taking an active interest in others. Accept more social invitations, take a public speaking class or join a local group like Toastmasters so that you can practice your set of charisma skills.

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