What is Charisma and how do I cultivate it?

We’ve all been seduced by a charismatic individual at some point in our lives. Whether that person was a friend, a salesman, or perhaps a teacher. Charismatic people seem to be able to motivate us without even trying and I wouldn’t blame you if you thought some people are just born with charisma and some aren’t. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it is true that we are all born with abilities that make some skills easier to grasp than others, it is also true that anyone can improve upon their charisma through steady practice.

What is Charisma? It is simply a set of social and emotional skills.

1. Charisma is the ability to put the people around you at ease.

In order to put others at ease we have to be at ease. Breathing exercises and mantras can be effective tools to bring our own minds and energies into a state of ease. Ease does not mean relaxation. Ease means contentment and well-being, comfort in the time place and situation your in, even if your nervous. If you are comfortable in your skin, than the people around you will be more comfortable in theirs. Take a moment, breath in deep and exhale saying, “I am where I’m suppose to be.” Be confident!

2. Charisma is the ability to connect with people around you.

Most of us have a person in our lives that we connect with effortlessly. Think about your relationship with that person. Creating connections can be done naturally when we are interested in someone but how do we build connections with everyone? The answer is time and attention. If someone is talking, look at them, listen to them, lean in. Use your body language to show caring and attentiveness, then use your words to reflect on and summarize what they said, and ask open ended questions to encourage others to talk more than you. Be sure not to simply be waiting for your turn to talk. When a person believes they are being listened to they will begin to connect with you on deeper levels.

3. Charisma is emotional sensitivity.

For a good portion of our lives we have to judge the world around us. Is this safe? Is this beneficial? Is this productive? These are important criteria to judge both people and the world but there are also times when we need to reserve our judgement and practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another’s feelings, in other words, “to put ourselves in their shoes.” When we do this we can make that person feel like they are the only one in the room, even if it is just for a moment.

4. Charisma is genuine emotional expression

Be yourself and let the people around you be themselves. The choice to reserve or reveal ourselves happens every moment of every day. We can either live authentically, expressing how we feel, or reserve our feelings and not let them out. When we are angry, it is wise to reserve our feelings until we can control ourselves, in other situations we need to show others that we are in fact human. When we are being charismatic we are expressing those emotions that are true and beneficial. We are choosing moments to be vulnerable.

5. Charisma is emotional control

We can think of this as being active instead of reactive. There are times in our lives where we have reacted to a situation based off our emotions. These times happen when emotions overwhelm us and take over. When we are practicing charisma we need to choose our actions carefully, always working to the outcome that we want even if the person in front of us is attacking us. Staying cool under pressure and always speaking and acting with purpose is a charismatic skill.

6. Charisma is the ability to play your role.

In every social situation, people will have expectations of you. The human mind operates on frameworks for social interaction. We all expect a teacher to act like a teacher, a stand-up comedian to act like a stand-up comedian, and a personal trainer to act like a personal trainer. Our ability to match the positive behaviors that people expect from our role will make us more charismatic. A personal trainer would be seen negatively if they make inappropriate jokes like a stand-up comedian, or lecture like a teacher.

Simple things you can practice in your daily life:

  1. Make eye contact when someone is talking to you and hold it long enough to note their eye color.
  2. Lean in and try to understand not just what the other person is saying but also note the tone they use and their body language. There’s a lot you can learn about someone without them telling you.
  3. Respond by summarizing what was just said and ask follow up questions that cannot be answered by a yes or no.
  4. Decrease the amount of filler words that you use. Likes, Ums, Errs, Ahhs. These will make you seem less knowledgeable and less professional.
  5. Posture! Lift your heart, draw your shoulders back and lift your chin! Be aware of your own body language and what you are telling the world.

Are you interested in finding out more about charisma and how to build it up? Check out this articles from psychology today: Charisma     Charisma: What it it? Do you have it?

There are many YouTube videos as well! Check these out: How to Be More Charismatic with these 5 Science Based Habits             How to be more Charismatic – 6 Charisma Tips to be more Charming and Attractive

One of my favorite books on the subject is: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie