Do you happen to know a man or a woman that own the room wherever they walk in? That immediately draw the attention of the others to themselves? Or that could easily get others in the room (yourself included) to support their cause or views? Such people are perceived as likable, powerful, irresistible and dynamic and this usually opens all doors in their path. You cannot usually explain why you like those people, but you do like them. This talent is known as “charisma“.
Some people are born charismatic and they should not do anything else to get what they want. But according to the studies, charisma is trainable. Increasing your personal charisma (especially in the workplace) is just a matter of decoding and mastering the communication strategies that are used by a “genuine” charismatic person. You can break that skill down to behaviors that can be learned, practiced and made natural.
This article aims at decomposing the set of skills that make the charismatic people who they are. And it gives you a list of 10 easy to practice and adopt tips in order to make you more charismatic. You do not require any knowledge prior to reading them. And even if you just read them (and never go back to them again), they will remain in the back of your mind, waiting to be pulled when needed.
Time to read
Time to read: 15 minutes (based on 150 wpm).
What is charisma?
Charisma is more of something that can be learnt, than something you’re born with. It is more about what you say and do, and less about who you really are. Your subconscious, physical appearance and the way you engage and communicate with other are all part of developing your charisma.
Charisma is also responsible for personal success. It is part of being a leader that draws, engages and inspires others to his cause. And those others are devoted followers that are willing to go to the end with their leader.
10 ways to be more charismatic
The following relatively simple rules, could be applied in almost any situation that requires personal charisma. Whether you are in a one-on-one meeting, at a conference mingling with people or in a conversation with colleagues, you can practice these tips and observe the effects yourself.
1. Learn to be present
Have you ever been at a restaurant full of Millennials (there is nothing wrong with them, I am just using them as an example)? Have you seen how many of them pretend to be on a date, but constantly look at their phones? Isn’t it sad to be on such a date? How do you think you would feel if the person, with whom you speak, only gives you 10% of his attention? All this makes you wonder how those people try and fail to exist in two worlds – the physical one and the digital one.
One of the first and most important rules for being charismatic is being present. This actually means immersing in the conversation and being truly part of it. It is less about making you shine and show off, and more about letting the other person feel good and comfortable.
People desire attention most of all in the world. And by giving it to them, you would automatically be the preferred person to talk to. As simple as it sounds, this skill is extremely difficult to master. People are usually very good at deciphering feigned interest. To show presence, you actually need to be present.
This is, hopefully, clear but set your phone to silent. You cannot be present if you are expecting a call any moment. Or if you are immersed in a chat with your friends over some sports game. When we went out with colleagues in school, we played a game. We would all pile up our phones in the middle of the table and the first one who reached for his phone would have to pay the check.
2. Develop self-confidence
Charismatic people have the confidence that they can communicate well in a variety of situations – groups, conferences and one-on-one meetings. But they can also help others feel confident. They can also talk on a huge variety of topics, because they are generally knowledgeable, literate and read a lot. Once you become charismatic, you will see it as a self fulfilling prophecy. The more charismatic you get, the more conversations you take part in, the more topics you immerse in, the more interesting you become.
One of the most powerful techniques that I have used to develop my self-confidence is “fake it till you make it”. I was the shiest of all people in the world. And I could not even talk on the phone with people I know, let alone talk to people I don’t know in public.
I began with calling phone numbers of different institutions and asking them relevant questions. I knew that they would not turn me down, because they get paid to talk to people. Then I started calling random numbers and try to initiate conversations, feeling safe behind the phone. When I got better, I started talking more with in person people working in the restaurants, shops and fast food chains that I loved. Then I started talking to strangers. Finally, you can see the long way that is behind your back, when you notice strangers talking to you in the streets. This means that you are (more) charismatic and that you already have an aura of confidence around you. And last but not least, when that moment arrives, please be careful when talking to strangers …
3. Be emotionally aware
There is that thing called emotional intelligence. It teaches you how to be aware of your emotions, how to control them. In its advanced studies, it teaches you how to see the emotions of the others and how to influence them. If you want to learn more about this topic, take a look at that article: Emotional Intelligence – 10 Ways to Improve Your Self Awareness.
Charismatic people are usually very open with their emotions and they have no problem to share them with the others. But they are also very good at hiding their emotions or acting in a way that makes other believe what they see. If you think about a duck, swimming in a lake. Above the surface everything is calm and serene, but below the water the legs of the duck are working on a full power.
By developing you emotional awareness and training yourself to identify the emotions of others, you would greatly improve your charisma. A few interesting and useful exercises in that sense are: what a movie in a foreign language that you do not know, without subtitles and then look up the plot and see how much you have guessed. Or just walk to a part and start observing people communicate. Try to guess who is who, what is the topic and how does everybody feel about it.
4. Use your body language
Studies show that people who make higher levels of eye contact are perceived as more likable, charismatic and generally preferred to talk to than the rest. When you slightly incline you head when listening, this means that you are interested and you are paying attention. Nodding signals that you agree with what you here and you encourage the other person to go own.
Open yourself to the other people and at any cost avoid looking closed. There is no greater demotivator than seeing somebody with hands folded in front of their body. Or even with legs crossed. If you want other to perceive you as charismatic and if you want to encourage the other people to talk to you, you have to appear open to them.
Increase the space you are using by stretching your arm over the back of a char. Spread your feet apart instead of keeping your toes close to each other. Hold your head high and raise your chest upwards. All those subtle signs will mark you as the alpha male or alpha female in the room and will automatically make you appear more charismatic.
Avoid overdoing any of the body language techniques, because almost all of them could backfire if you practice them too often. Looking someone directly in the eye for too long can discourage someone who is skeptical in your point of view. If you nod too much, this could convey a feeling of trying too hard.
5. Basic communication skills
Asking clarifying questions, to make sure you understand the point of view better, is a powerful indication of presence. Make the other person reflect on what he said with questions like: “What did you feel back then?” or “How would you have responded if you were not feeling so stressed?”
Listen to what the other person says and do not anticipate their words. At any cost avoid interrupting them, even if you are sure in which direction they are heading. Do not think about your response before you have heard the whole questions. And last but not least, wait a while before responding. If you follow immediately after the other person has stopped, this signals that you have actually thought of the response during they were talking.
For more details on developing better communication skills, you can check this article: Communication Skills – How to Avoid Miscommunication in the Workplace.
6. Dress smart
Your clothes are one of the most important signs that you can convey to the outer world. Think of a policeman or an army officer with the neat uniform and the medals on their chest. They immediately scream “authority“. Wearing high-class clothing is usually enough to impress people and appear more charismatic to them.
Try to research the type of event you will visit and make your clothing choices based on the types of people that you are going to meet. For example, even during my first professional years, when I was still working as an entry-level developer, I made it a habit of myself to always wear shirt and jeans and never to wear T-shirt and short pants. This has always had an enormous impact on my career, because my colleagues never perceived me as “just an entry level guy”. And when the other perceive you as something else, you also start believing it.
7. Develop a better body
Your physical appearance has an enormous effect on your confidence. And your body has an enormous effect on your appearance. Nobody is born looking as an Apollo god, but everybody can take care of their body. Incorporate physical exercises in your daily routine and stick to it. You will notice that the better you look, the more attention from the other you get. You do not have to become Mr Olimpia, but you can do your best to be and look fit.
One of the easiest ways to have a better body is to incorporate physical exercises in your morning routine. I personally do 3 series of 20 push-ups, 2 series of 20 squats and 2 series of 1,5 minute planks. Before that I make sure that I stretch carefully. During the day I try to make somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 steps. This is all it takes. For more information about my daily routine, you can read this article: Practicing Discipline – The Ultimate Daily Routine for Entrepreneurs.
8. Show passion
A very positive emotion that you can show is passion. This is also something that you cannot easily fake, so try to talk about things that genuinely interest you and that you feel passionate about. Use the full set of body language power-tools to assert what you are saying: show your palms often, change your voice for dramatic effect, physically stress the most important topics.
9. Practice mirroring
Another very powerful technique and also very easy to overdo. Mimic the other person’s physical behavior and match his energy level and you will notice that they will respond to it. You do not have to agree with everything they say or copy every single move. But you can observe the most characteristic behavior patterns and use similar ones.
You could also consider matching the language of the other person. Each of us uses specific words to agree or disagree, to express opinion or a feeling. Observe, notice them and use these words when you speak. This is make you a more pleasant discussion partner immediately.
10. Avoid negative conversations
First of all, do not complain. About the weather, about the current political situation, or about the loss of your favorite football team. Nobody likes a negative conversation and most of all – nobody remembers a negative conversation. Most people will instinctively go away from negative people. So there is hardly any mindset that could ruin your charisma faster as being negative.
If you find yourself talking to a negative person, try anything to turn them positive. This could be a nice exercise in any situation. Thus, the people around you will start expecting only positive conversation and nothing else from you.
As you have seen in the article so far, being charismatic is just like any other art. First of all, you have to decompose the skill set that makes a person charismatic. Then, you have to pick those skills that are applicable for you. And last but not least, you have to practice them until they feel natural to you.
Statistic shows that charismatic people are more likely to get a job, to win a customer or be successful in a relationship. There is no reason for you not to tap into that infinite resource and start getting what you want to get from every conversation, negotiation, interview or just talk.