Charisma has three main ingredients: expressiveness, control, and sensitivity.
Expressiveness is the talent for spontaneously striking up conversations and easily conveying feelings.
Control is the ability to fine-tune your persona to fit the mood and social makeup of any group.
Sensitivity is a gift for listening and sussing out other people’s mindsets.
A lot of charisma comes down to how you communicate. It’s your ability to strike that fine balance between picking up on other people’s emotions while expressing your own.
Believe it or not, science has found a way to empirically measure these traits by studying the unconscious gestures and expressions we all make. For instance, a modest amount of fidgeting and nervous energy, typically viewed negatively, is often a sign that someone is fired up about a conversation and wants the same for the other person. When a charismatic person connects with someone, their autonomic nervous system is piqued, their attention is locked into that person and they’re tingling with energy. Outwardly, they talk faster. In fact, a 2005 study showed that people who speak quickly were viewed as more charismatic than those who take their time.
Opening up the verbal floodgates, however, is not all there is to it. A speaking style that’s fast, yet calm and fluid, is the most charismatic of all. The lack of irregular pauses and ums or you knows shows that a person is confident about herself and her ideas.
Charisma also shines through simple gestures like nodding, eye contact, smiles, sures, and uh-huhs. TV hosts make an art of this give-and-take. This feedback loop, if even for a short period, creates a bond between the two conversationalists. Mirroring has long been peddled as a technique in everything from selling cars to winning friends.
The sociometer is a gadget designed to detect and measure the unconscious gestures that are signs of charisma-it didn’t measure one word. Unsurprisingly, incorporating those gestures was directly linked to one’s success. As the old saying goes, “it’s not so much what you say as much as it is how you say it.”
In short, sound like an expert, be enthusiastic, and be genuinely interested in your audience and that proposal will be granted! Of course, sounding like an expert and being one are not necessarily the same, but experts have agreed that most charismatic people are authentic and that sounding like an expert is not a ruse. Charisma is a skill set. A charismatic person genuinely likes, and is curious about, other people and can pick up on their emotions.
Though charisma hinges largely on expressiveness, control and sensitivity, add to the mix mystery and contradiction and the intensity builds evermore.
A supremely charismatic person is both manly, yet sensitive; feminine, yet independent; down-to-earth and one-of-a-kind.
(Think Britney Spears, Barack Obama, Don Draper.) But even at the obscure level of presidents, charisma isn’t about one person casting a spell on another. People like Bill Clinton and Princess Diana could walk into a room and know who needed them. Moreover, the needy person knew that the charismatic person needed him or her too. There’s an arc of mutual need underneath all the magic.
The great news is, everyone is born with charisma…it is a matter of unveiling it. Chances are that we’ve veiled it and mistaken the veil for our real personality. “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world,” says Marianne Williamson. Here’s how to unveil yours:
1. Strike Some Poses:
For the rest of today, stand, sit, and walk like the most charismatic person you know. Persist for a few days…charismatic body language is a self-reinforcing cycle. “Fake it til you make it” works here because any pose that elicits confidence is actually a return to authenticity. No one was born beaten!
2. When You Get to the Brink…Keep Going
“There are moments when you can give yourself to a lover, or not; give in to self-doubt, uncertainty, and admonishment, or not; dive into a different culture, or not…Resist then, and…there is only what might have been” -Diane Ackerman
A defining characteristic of charismatic people is that they choose to walk through littoral moments as if they had no doubt. They release doubt because it’s simply not useful when you’re on the brink. Fine a littoral zone in your life and step beyond it as if you had no doubt.
3. Focus Outward
The single, most charismatic move: shining your attention on the beings around you. Focus on any person or crowd with a friendly curiosity, and your charismatic energy will touch every individual. People pay attention to people who are paying attention to them.
4. Take Space and Make Space
The previous pointer, however, doesn’t sacrifice making boundaries. The very essence of charisma is projecting unbounded awareness of others while setting rock-solid boundaries…with a clean response.
Charisma is the light that shines from the core of all ordinary beings. You can’t strip the veils that cover your real nature without illuminating the world in a new, inimitable way!