‘If only I had a little more charisma I’d be much more successful in life. Is this something you’ve said more than once or twice, especially when you’ve seen someone appear successful just because they’ve got that – charisma? Can you learn how to be charismatic or, is it something you’re born with?
What is charisma anyway? The Oxford dictionary defines it as, compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
Leaders, especially politicians like Bill Clinton, Barak Obama or John F Kennedy spring to mind when you think of charismatic people. From commanding a room and influencing others and the ability to build a relationship with almost anyone, charismatic people seem to have it all and get ahead in life because they have it, charisma.
If you’re in business, education, or regularly meet people, having charisma is a great asset that puts you ahead of your competition. If you have a leader that gets you really excited about a vision and the means to do it, you’ll put in the extra effort to make that vision reality. And, if you’re that leader potential obstacles dealing with people can melt away. But is charisma something you can learn like say, patience?
A charismatic person has a magnetic presence, and awe inspires, or influences other people. They have a great sense of self-worth. Whatever your personal views of Barak Obama you can’t argue against his incredible belief in himself that he could pull it off. Become the 44th president of the United States. He had what it takes to get past an enormous challenge. He believed in himself, what he believed he could offer and what he would do.
Go further back in time to the year 1978 when a very charismatic person, Jim Jones, persuaded 900 members of his People’s Temple cult to commit mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana. Such is the power and influence of a charismatic individual.
It was German sociologist Max Weber who said that personal magnetism was not a God-given gift but merely the perception of those around us.
So how do project your charisma on others? How do make your relatives, friends and colleagues view you as charismatic?
Here are a few tips, that with practice can be a natural element of how you behave:
- Act confident and show genuine empathy.
- Watch your posture, walk and stand confidently
- Show power, without arrogance. This can be achieved subtly by reclining on your chair, feet on the desk and hands behind your head, or by leaning over your desk with your hands down on the surface and spread wide apart.
- Maintain eye contact. Research by the University of Miami found that people who are more dominant break a greater number of mutual gazes than those who are more submissive or in the power-down position
- Show warmth and smile. In The Silent Language of Leaders, Carol Kinsey Gorman cites an experiment by Duke University, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that “the orbitofrontal cortices (a ‘reward centre’ in the brain) were more active when subjects were learning and recalling the names of smiling people.
- Listen, pay exclusive attention to the people you interact. One suggestion is to count how many times the person you’re listening to blinks. Just make sure you’re not obvious.
Following the above tips, probably won’t turn you into a leader parading on the world stage, but will enhance your reputation among your peers.