Let us set the record straight right now: You do not have to be born charismatic to be charismatic. It can be learned. This article will get into the fundamentals of charisma, offer steps you can take today to instantly increase your charisma, and explain why being charismatic is important.
Why Charisma is Important:
You may have noticed that this article is under the category of leadership, and leadership is the number one reason that being charismatic is important. The difference between a good leader and a great leader a lot of times is charisma. Charisma makes people trust you, want to follow you and want to impress you. We have all met somebody who is extremely charismatic; they seem to light up a room and everybody wants to hear their opinion and wants to impress them. Now imagine, for a second, you are in a leadership position; imagine how beneficial it would be to your position if you gain some of the benefits of being charismatic. All of a sudden, the importance of charisma will seem obvious. Need even more convincing? Think back to the most influential leaders over the last 100 years: JFK, FDR, Churchill, Hitler, Reagan, all leaders – some terrible people, but all leaders – that had an enormous amount of power regardless of how good of a person they were. One of the secrets to their success was their charisma. People felt in love with them in no small part because they had an extremely high level of charisma. Now that we understand the importance of charisma, let’s get into the fundamentals and how to become more charismatic ourselves.
As Olivia Fox Cabane says in her book, The Charisma Myth, charisma can be broken down into three fundamentals: Presence, Power, and Warmth. We are going to go over each of these fundamentals and how you can become better at them. If you find this material interesting, I highly suggest reading Olivia’s book; she has a ton of useful, practical information that has really helped me in my life.
The foundation of charisma is in being present. Simply by becoming more present, you instantly become more charismatic. So what do I mean by presence? Presence is being completely involved in what you are doing. Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with somebody and noticed that, as the other person was talking, you were off thinking about something else and not even listening to them? Or maybe you were too busy thinking about what you were going to say next that you didn’t even listen to what they had to say. We have all been there, but not being present drastically reduces our charisma. Charismatic people are completely present. Have you ever noticed people often describe charismatic people as good listeners? That is because charismatic people have mastered the skill of being present. People notice when you are not listening; they may not say anything but they notice. Charismatic people are always present and are always listening.
Now you are probably wondering exactly how you can become more present. There is one very easy step you can do today that can instantly increase your presence. Whenever you are doing anything, once you realize your mind has started to drift, focus on your breathing for just a second or two. This will center you and bring you back to the present. Do this every time that you notice you are drifting and you will instantly become more present.
To be seen as powerful you have to be perceived as somebody who can affect the world in some way. You can be perceived as powerful in many ways: you can be intelligent, a person in authority, wealthy, physically strong, a high social status, etc. What matters is that you are perceived as somebody that can make change happen.
Two ways to appear more powerful are your appearance and your body language. Let’s take them one by one starting with your appearance.
Your appearance: If you are dressed nice, clean shaven and have a nice hair cut, you are instantly perceived as more powerful, and thus perceived as more charismatic. Take the time in the morning to look nice; choose to wear better clothes, wear nice jewelry, get a nice hair cut and you will feel more confident and be perceived as more powerful.
Your Body Language: Your body language says everything about you. Experts say that more than 80% of communication is non-verbal, so mastering your body language is extremely important. If you have body language that conveys power, you will instantly be perceived as powerful. The problem with body language is that most of it is subconscious and you can not be consciously controlled. For example, you can easily tell when someone’s smile is not genuine. That is because the muscles that control a smile cannot be completely controlled; a true smile is controlled by your subconscious. The Charisma Myth goes in depth on exactly how to affect body language that is controlled by your subconscious, so I highly recommend giving it a read if you are interested in learning more. However, some body language can be controlled. Some tips to convey power though body language are: standing up straight, giving a good hang shake, looking somebody in the eyes as you talk and having a relaxed body while in a conversation. By displaying positive body language like this, you give off a sense of power and increase your charisma.
Warmth is more subtle than power but is just as important. Somebody who is powerful but not warm can come off as cold, arrogant, or standoffish. Somebody perceived with warmth but no power can come off as overeager or desperate to please. This is why it is imperative that you master both warmth and power if you wish to be perceived as charismatic.
If somebody is warm, then we get the feeling that they care about us and want to help us. We feel that we can trust them and that they will use what power they have to improve our lives. That is why warmth is so important; it shows you genuinely care about them and you are going to use your power to help them.
To be perceived as warm you have to work on your body language and listening skills. A warm person never has their arm crossed, genuinely smile and have an open body language. A warm person is also considered a good listener; they genuinely are interested in what you have to say and they never seem distracted when you are talking. They will give you useful feedback because they actually listened to what you had to say. All in all, having a genuine interest in somebody and conveying that to them makes you appear more warm.
Have an questions or comments? Meet me in the comment section to discuss further!