If you’re like most people, you find it tough to put into words, but you definitely know charisma when you see it. Or, it might be more accurate to say … when you feel it. Because doesn’t charisma have everything to do with the feeling we get from someone?
My Facebook friends say a person with charisma is thoroughly herself … lights up a room … has a commanding Presence … and listens so well he makes you feel like the most important person in the room.
The experts would agree. And it’s worth noting that some of them have a hard time coming up with an absolute definition too.
The word “charisma” was coined in the 1800’s – the sociologist Max Weber called it “a gift of grace.” But is it really a gift, something you’re born with – or not? Or can you cultivate charisma?
Psychology Professor Howard Friedman describes charisma as “a certain presence.” And it’s reflected in some specific behaviors. Friedman says charismatic people
- Smile naturally, not just with their mouths, but with their eyes too
- Transmit emotions with non-verbal cues: gesture, facial expressions, voice modulation
- Listen attentively
- Exhibit self-confidence
- Are truly authentic
Whether charisma is innate or learned is open to debate. But this much is definitely true: a person can learn to use non-verbal cues more effectively. That’s a huge component of charisma. And we can also learn to listen better. In fact, I’d say that’s the first step for someone who want to increase charisma.
Make it a point to listen much more than you talk, and see what happens. Notice how people suddenly think you’re the most interesting person around. No kidding, folks believe you’re a genius when you give them your attention. Try it, just as an experiment, and let me know what happens in the Comments below.