Charisma. What is it? Where does it come from? How is it useful? How can you gather more of it?
Simply put, charisma is a person’s ability to attract positive attention, gather willing followers, and influence their behavior. Cult leaders generally show a lot of charisma. But cults are a narrow, negative use of charismatic power.
Far more often, certain politicians, celebrities, and leaders at various levels make use of their charisma to attract support, set directions and goals, and galvanize groups to engage in satisfying behavior and/or accomplish useful goals.
To some extent, everyone is born with a natural level of charisma. But it’s not permanently fixed. Scientists have studied charismatic people and have developed ideas and techniques that allow almost anyone to enhance their natural charisma.
Here are some suggestions on how to increase your ability to attract positive attention and influence the behavior of other people:
Behave with Confidence
Confidence is a primary foundation of charisma. Of course, not everyone who is confident is charismatic. But there’s no way to be charismatic without it.
For this reason, your efforts to be more charismatic must begin with efforts to behave in a more confident manner. For example:
- Say it like you mean it. Express your ideas and opinions openly and directly, yet with a friendly not overbearing demeanor. Although you may discuss various angles and “both sides” of an issue, finish strong and make clear your personal point of view on the matter.
- Express lots more optimism than pessimism, and advocate a hopeful, positive outlook toward the future.
- Support other people insofar as they deserve it, and possibly a bit more. Praise others openly, and if you must criticize, do this in private.
- Cultivate big, bold, forceful body language: stand tall and proud, make large gestures rather than small ones, smile and nod in ways everyone can see, stretch out and take up extra space around you.
Express Your Passion
Charisma flows from passion. It takes more than passion to be charismatic, of course, but it’s very hard to be charismatic when you’re feeling lukewarm or cold about the issue at hand.
You can sometimes find reasons to feel passionate about almost any task, project, or goal with which you’re involved. But you’ll find charisma multiplies when you’re dealing with an issue that genuinely and naturally arouses your passion. You can show your passion by:
- Openly expressing your deepest emotions concerning the issue at hand.
- Using tones of voice and body language that go above and beyond those used in everyday conversation.
- Taking time to develop and hone “flights of rhetoric:” rhythmic, poetic, and expressive language about the issue at hand that others can recognize, appreciate, and remember.
- Taking actions – such as speaking to groups, gathering signatures, volunteering, and more – that demonstrate what you’re passionate about, and that others can support and join.
With so many things happening in our complex world, a person who focuses intently tends to stand out and attract positive attention.
Focus has many levels, including:
- Focus on individuals. People respond positively to people who pay close attention to them. If you make frequent eye contact, remember a person’s name, listen to them attentively, and decline distractions – at least for a few minutes, you will attract a person’s positive attention and take an important step toward influencing them.
- Focus on a single task, project, or goal. Trying to do too much may be necessary in certain situations, but such behavior will not enhance your charisma. A single-minded attitude toward a task, project, or goal usually generates more charisma.
- Focus on the present. The past is done and the future is uncertain. Philosophically, all we ever have is the present. For a variety of reasons, a steadfast focus on the present moment communicates itself to others and comes across as a powerful component of charisma.
Express Personal Warmth
Regardless of the task, project, or goal you’re pursuing, taking time to care about other people – and showing that you care – is an important building block of charisma. The focus on individuals I described above does not require personal warmth. But if you can add warmth to your interactions, your ability to attract and influence others will grow by leaps and bounds.
You can show warmth by:
- Body language: appropriate touching, smiling, and nodding, for example, will help people recognize that you care about them.
- Memory: paying honest attention to them will help you remember their names, their situations, what they say, and more. Including this information in your conversations with them will help people understand that you care.
- Genuinely caring: you cannot fake sincerity. If you recognize and appreciate the similarities and differences between you and others, people will innately sense that you care.
While some people seem extremely charismatic and others don’t, everyone can increase their ability to attract positive attention and influence others’ behavior. All it takes is a few simple techniques, and a willingness to try.
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