A young woman I admire wrote last week asking about “charisma.” Who has it and how do you get it?
I was intrigued by the question, enjoyed answering it, and thought perhaps you would enjoy the answers too.
Here are my top-of-mind thoughts and experiences with this everyone-should-have-it trait…
Charisma is a honed talent, one that grows with the person and is ever-evolving and developing. Youth has different charisma flavors than maturity does, rightfully so. Nothing worse than a too-giddy 80 yr old, or a staid and too-proper teen.
Charisma is somewhat unique to each person, and somewhat tied to personality. I would however, draw several common characteristics…
Magnetism — I think of charisma as a form of magnetism, a drawing where you are attracted to and want to know more about someone. This begins with eye contact and also a smile. Nothing better than to look someone in the eye and smile, it’s super powerful.
I tried the discipline of “smiling more” about two years ago and oh my the reactions are amazing, so much so I do it all the time now! People do double-takes wondering, “Do I know her? What does she know that is making her smile at me?” Their faces brighten and soften, so does mine.
I have a very cool photo I use in a workshop that shows the same woman. In one photo she’s smiling, in the other one she’s not. She literally looks like the daughter when she’s smiling and about 20 yrs older when she’s not (see photo below.)
Practicing smiling as a first reaction to anyone you see or look at is super fun to practice. Babies in particular always stare back as if riveted by your face. Not bad in a world that avoids eye contact at all costs. Hey, if you don’t have a husband staring in your eyes, smile at babies!
Speaking Rhythm — There is a rhythm in speaking that is also connected to charisma. I listen to my speaking and practice this, things like slowing down, being energetic but emphasizing words and allowing pauses. Practice makes perfect when it comes to speaking, both on stage and one-on-one or in work settings. Being an effective speaker/communicator is definitely a component of charisma.
Relatability and “Real-ness” — These may be the most important characteristics of all. Learning how to understand and relate to every person you meet, letting them feel like you “get them” and relate to their insecurities and questions, definitely draws them in. We all feel alone in our weaknesses, but in truth we’re so much alike. When you’re someone who engages with people in this way, people want to know you and be around you.
So give a few of these techniques a try, then use your charisma to inspire everyone you know to new heights in living and pursuing their dreams!
What a difference a smile makes!
(Photo courtesy of New Beauty Magazine)