You Can Light Up a Room: How to Be Charismatic

Many people wonder how to be charismatic, but is charisma an innate quality or a learned behavior? Turns out, it’s a little of both!  Some experts believe that charismatic behavior is learned early in life, then instinctively becomes cultivated in our later years.

Charisma can determine whether you’re seen as a follower or leader.  Charisma is not just how you make people feel about you – it’s also how you make them feel about themselves.  It’s that one quality everyone is eager to adopt, yet is difficult for many people to cultivate.

While we each have our own personal laundry list of items which we feel epitomizes a charismatic individual, our ability to identify which individuals exude this alluring quality are nearly always in sync.  Luminaries often included are Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, even 1950’s siren, Marilyn Monroe.

So just how do these and other energy magnets cultivate that certain je ne sais quoi that makes them shine?  The truth is, the simplified framework for charisma entails really nothing more than channeling one’s energies into re-framing our brains, and concentrating on body language.

Olivia Fox Cabane takes this a step further in her book The Charisma Myth, in which she  uncovers specific behaviors  that can help build one’s personal charisma.  Known the world over as “The Star Maker”, Olivia reveals the constellation of social and emotional behaviors that create charisma fall into three simple categories: presence, power and warmth.

The core of charisma is an awareness of the moment – and this is one of the most effective ways to make another individual the center of your universe. A poignant example of such presence was witnessed during the University of Michigan’s commencement this past spring. While sharing pearls of wisdom he gleaned during his time spent doing improv, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo urged the U of M graduating class to strive toward being more present by reciting his mantra-like advice:  “Be in thismoment… be in this moment… now be in this moment.’

Not tangible power, but rather the perceived ability to affect the world around you.  Practice mindfulness of the behavioral cues of others, such as a person’s reaction in their demeanor and/or body language.  Nothing emanates power more than displaying open body language such as a high-power pose.

Warmth is quite possibly the one quality even more important than power – and it’s a quality individuals simply cannot fake.  Nothing ruins charisma more than in-authenticity.  Remain perceptive to your listener’s micro-expressions, or tiny facial tics.  Like power cues, these telling signs boldly give way to an individual’s incongruent character.  And because people can read facial expressions in as little as 17 milliseconds, the person with whom you’re speaking will likely notice.

So, in the end, when yearning to be more like some of your favorite leaders, don’t try to impress others. Instead, let them impress you – they will love you for it!

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Career, skills