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.