There are few things as ineffable — or important — as charisma. It’s the currency upon which social situations trade; a quality that captivates, compels and charms everyone it touches. (That is, unless you don’t have charisma. Then it can be a very different story.)
If you’ve not been blessed with natural charisma, you’re more likely to spend dinner parties or your days at the office simply…existing. In the orbit of these interesting people, you’re left floating around ineffectually — with nothing but your own limp anecdotes and introverted body language for company.
And, as you wilt in the corner, you’ll be forced to watch as those beguiling, bewitching people bowl others over with nothing but the sheer force of their characters. Well: no more. Even if you’re the most vanilla individual ever to be scooped into your social circle, we’ve found 10 tips that will help add some pizzazz to your personality.
1. Always try to come across as relatable
Raising an eyebrow? We understand. Most people probably think that to be charismatic, you must seem mysterious, elusive and unknown. But that’s actually the last thing you want. That way, you’ll seem distant and snobbish.
To really bond and create rapport quickly, try mirroring. Ask the right questions, use similar words and find common interests to reinforce yourself as a relatable, but interesting, person. If your conversation partner has a penchant for badminton, now’s the time to bring up the fact that you’re a pretty enthusiastic player yourself. If your colleague is the only other person you’ve ever met who can name all the American state capitals, that niche area of knowledge is something you can bond over.
2. Keep your nerves in check
There’s nothing less charismatic than a worrier. Confidence can get you far in life and, while some people seem to be born with it in reserves, many of us have to work at it.
This means practice. Work at managing your nerves in high-pressure social settings, and it’ll become second nature in no time. That means no sweaty palms (nobody wants to shake an outstretched hand that’s slick with sweat; always make a quick dash to the bathroom for some subtle hand-drying if you think that might be a danger), no twitches and no shuffling. Begin with this simple reassurance: however much you think you’ve embarrassed yourself, it’ll never be the end of the world.
3. Talk about things you’re genuinely passionate about
Even if you’re an ardent stamp collector, you can still be charismatic. Just talk about those little sticky squares with the passion you clearly hold for them. Of course, it doesn’t have to be stamps. But, whatever your interests, don’t be ashamed to talk about them.
That’s the point here. You may think international travel, amateur car racing or modern mixology to be typically more interesting — but nothing will unravel your charm quicker than having a hole picked in an adopted interest. Be true; for conviction = charisma.
4. Be an excellent listener
But it’s also important to know when to keep shtum. Charisma stems from conversation, and conversation is a two-way street. So remember to take a break from trumpeting your own traits to make others feel good about themselves.
And when we say listen, really do listen. If you glaze over and let the words of others simply wash over you, the conversation won’t flow and be interactive — and that’s what you need to make them feel valued.
5. Showcase your wit and humour
Ah, the charm offensive; the skeleton key into any conversation. Flash a smile, crack a joke and you’ll be known around your social circles as Mr Charisma in no time. But wit and humour is subjective, so play your crowd.
That means stopping before you barrel in with the toilet humour and assessing your audience — if it’s a girlfriend’s parents, maybe keep the blue stuff to a minimum.
6. Express with your body
Body language is important in all aspects of life. But, if you’re planning on building a reputation as a charisma machine, it’s one of the most important aspects of all. Because no-one wants to talk to the hunched-over, eyes-down shuffler in the corner.
Instead, stand with your chest out and your gaze up. When you do engage in a conversation, use hand gestures to emote and you’ll come across as more approachable. And, of course, smile.
7. But don’t fidget
There’s a fine line between helpful hand gestures and nervous, twitchy fidgeting. And it’s a line you want to walk. People want to speak to the guy who smiles and tells bombastic stories with his hands outstretched. But they give the clapper, the snapper and the finger cracker a wide berth.
Don’t fidget, don’t look awkward and stand in a mirror before you go to any party to identify any dodgy-looking ticks. That way, you’ll know what makes you look stimulating — and what makes you look sinister.
8. Remember people’s names
It’s another simple trick, but it goes a long way. Making people feel heard, important and recognised will engender them to you and what you have to say. And this goes whether the situation is social or business.
Make a mental note when they first mention their name, and if you have to employ a pneumonic device or other technique to remember people’s names, it’s still worth it. If you can remember a roomful, you’ll be the man for introductions, control the flow of the group and hold the power.
9. Always be positive
Because nobody likes a misery guts. Sit around like a lost soul, being pessimistic and cynical, and no-one will want to engage you in conversation. True, Hemingway and Hunter S Thompson, among others, may have maintained their charisma through thick applications of melancholy, but that doesn’t mean you can too.
Instead, give us a smile. Be optimistic, happy and don’t criticise others or make things political. And be polite — to everyone, especially waiters. That way, having your glass half full will ensure that your glass actually does stay half full.
10. Look the part
Well this goes without saying. And, if you’re struggling with it, JFK should be able to help…
Wondering how to maintain that charisma at the times it really matters? Well, here’s how to nail the 5 most challenging interview questions…
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