It’s a common thing I run into with clients who don’t quite connect with the people they talk to – their colleagues, customers, even family and friends.
In a group of seven people in a workshop last week, three of them had the same habit. Without realizing it, they’re tilting their head slightly back. So the front of their head, rather than the crown, is pointed at the ceiling. And their chin is lifted a bit.
The effect of that is: they’re looking down their nose at you. Nice people, all three of them. But they seem snooty, arrogant, and distant. It’s not magnetic, in fact it’s the opposite. Without even being consciously aware of exactly what they’re seeing … people instinctively pull away from someone who appears to be condescending.
Creating charisma is all about the eyes. You know, windows to the soul and all that jazz. Seriously, you want your eyes front and center if you’re looking to be more charismatic. And you don’t want to be leading with your chin.
This head position is important, and it’s not only to avoid that looking-down-your-nose appearance. In The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane points out that bringing the chin down a few degrees “makes you appear more thoughtful, attentive and deliberate as your eyes automatically open wider.”
And that thoughtfulness and attention is magic for an audience, whether it’s one person watching you or a whole roomful.
What is it about her?
My friend Kim was telling me one day how much she doesn’t like a mutual acquaintance. And, she said, “I don’t really know what it is about her that bugs me.”
I told her, “I know” – and I demonstrated how the woman holds her head way back all the time, with her nose in the air. Kim was astonished. “That’s exactly it!” She hadn’t consciously registered specifically what “bugged her” but at the non-conscious level she knew. This woman always appeared to be looking down on her.
You can check this out for yourself. Just look in the mirror, thrust your chin out (and it doesn’t have to be by much) and notice how that appears. And now drop your chin. Not so you’re looking down, but so your eyes and the top portion of your face are straight ahead. Do you see the difference in you?
We see it too.
Sometimes people get into a back-tilting habit because of the way they sit at a computer with their head thrust forward. Sometimes they’re trying to see through or over or around glasses, especially bifocals.
And sometimes it’s a physical response to psychological discomfort. A way of pulling back from real contact with another human being. Shielding those “windows to the soul” because they truly don’t want anyone to see in.
It’s worth looking at your own most typical head position. And if you find that your chin is more prominent than your eyes, practice two things:
- Elongate the back of your neck. Really stretch it, and as you do you’ll notice that your chin naturally drops.
- Imagine a thread coming out of the crown of your head, connecting you to the ceiling – or the sky. Let it pull you up … and you’ll become more charismatic in the process.
You know me – I’m curious. (Also thoughtful, attentive and deliberate.) So let me know how this goes for you, will you?