Friday, February 6, 2009
How to Be Charming & Charismatic
Have you ever noticed how some people captivate everyone they speak to? No matter what they look like or how much money they have, they can walk into a room and instantly be the center of attention. When they leave, people think highly of them and want to emulate them. That’s charisma, a sort of magnetism that inspires confidence and adoration.
Like beauty, luck, and social position, charisma can open many doors in life. Unlike these other qualities, anyone can become more charismatic.
Improve your posture. Good posture will give the impression of self confidence (even if you don’t feel that way on the inside). While walking, maintain a relaxed yet definitive upright posture: spine long, shoulders back, head level with the ground. This may feel awkward or overpowering to you when you first practice it, but keep trying.
Relax the muscles in your face to the point where you have a natural, pleasant expression permanently engraved there. Face the world and show everyone you’re not afraid.
Make a connection. When your eyes come in contact with another person’s, nod and smile subtly with a subdued joy shining forth. Don’t worry about the other person’s reaction and don’t overdo it.
Remember people’s names when you meet them for the first time. This takes an enormous amount of effort for most people. Repeat the person’s name when stating your name to that person will help you to remember it better. For example: “Hi Jack, I’m Wendy.” Follow through with small talk and repeat the person’s name. Repeat it once more when you say goodbye. It’s not just about helping you to remember that person. The more you say a person’s name, the more that person will feel that you like them and the greater the chance they’ll warm up to you.
Be interested in people. If you meet a new acquaintance, for example a coworker, a classmate, a friend of a friend, etc. find out about their immediate family and interests. Be sure to ask after the names of family members and remember them. Be careful in that subject though you don’t want to be nosy. If you ask too much they will become uncomfortable. Also ask after their particular interests in life. These two topics will ensure much better small talk than just harping on about school or work. Most people don’t like to think about those things at social occasions unless they have to. Even if it is about networking, you should understand fully the worth of taking a break from talking shop. It is important to refrain from talking up about yourself. Be purely interested and impressed by the person with whom you are speaking.
Orient topics toward the audience. This means taking into account topics that interest those around you, even if you are not so keen on them. If you are in a sporty crowd, talk about last night’s game or the meteoric rise of a new team. If you are amongst a group of hobbyists, draw out their hobbies and make remarks related to fishing, knitting, mountain climbing, movies, etc. Nobody expects you to be an expert. It is your level of interest and willingness to engage in topics that makes you an interesting person to be around. Exercise an open mind. Let others do the explaining. If someone mistakenly thinks you know more about the topic, be genuine and simply say that your knowledge is limited but that you are hoping to learn more about it.
Praise others instead of gossiping. If you are talking with someone or you are talking in a group of people, and up pops the subject of another person in a positive or negative way, be the one to mention something you like about that person. Hearsay is the most powerful tool in gaining charm because it is always viewed as 100% sincere. It has the added benefit of creating trust in you. The idea will spread that you never have a bad word to say about anyone. Everyone will know that their reputation is safe with you.
Don’t Lie. A lie is something you say for which there is some direct evidence somewhere out there that contradicts it. If you tell Mary that you like Jane and Billy that you don’t like Jane, Mary and Billy will talk and your reputation will be ruined. No one will believe a word you say.
Issue compliments generously, especially to raise others’ self esteem. Try to pick out something that you appreciate in any situation and verbally express that appreciation. If you like something or someone, find a creative way to say it and say it immediately. If you wait too long, it may be viewed as insincere and badly timed, especially if others have beaten you to it. If you notice that someone is putting a lot of effort into something, compliment it, even if you feel that there is room for improvement. If you notice that someone has changed something about themselves haircut, manner of dress) notice it, and point out something you like about it. If you are asked directly, be charming and deflect the question with a very general compliment.
Be gracious in accepting compliments. Get out of the habit of assuming that the compliment is being given without genuine intent. Even when someone makes a compliment out of contempt, there is always a germ of jealous truth hiding in their own heart. Be effusive in accepting the compliment. Go beyond a mere “thank you” and enjoin this with “I’m glad you like it” or “It is so kind of you to have noticed.” These are “compliments in return.” Avoid backhanding a compliment. There is nothing worse to a person complimenting than to receive the response “Oh well I wish I was as ______ as you/that situation.” That is tantamount to saying, “No, I am not what you are saying I am, and your judgment is wrong.”
Control your tone of voice. The tone of your voice is crucial. Most people feel insecure somewhere inside and have an inability to accept praise. For this very reason, when you praise, do it subtly and glibly. When you say, “you look nice today” it should be in the exact same tone that you would use to say “it’s a nice day.” Any variation from your normal tone will arouse suspicion about your sincerity. Practice giving compliments into a recorder and play it back. Does it sound sincere? Practice until you get it right.. It might not sound right to you, in that case, ask someone for judgement.
Developing charisma is an art. The general guidelines above can help you be more charismatic, but your charisma must come from within you and must reflect you as an individual or it will appear fake. Fortunately, everyone has the ability to be charismatic, and it simply needs to be coaxed out. Practice and take note of what works and what needs improvement.
Don’t mimic others. People with well developed charisma have a remarkable ability not only to sway people’s opinions but also to cause others to emulate their personalities and even gestures. At the same time, however, research has shown that charismatic people do not emulate other charismatic people. Their individuality sets them apart.
Have a message. Don’t be afraid to be controversial, to push the envelope. If you believe in something or feel strongly about it, communicate that in a respectful way. Your charisma will help people be accepting of your ideas.