Posted by News Express | 29 May 2017 | 1,439 times
It is common for people to struggle with a definition of ‘charisma’ in relation to communication and the social sciences. Ultimately, charisma is the result of excellent communication and interpersonal skills. And, as these skills can be learned and developed, so it is possible to develop your charisma.
How to be charismatic
Becoming charismatic involves paying careful attention to how you interact with other people. The traits that make up charisma are positive and appealing to others. The charismatic person uses the skills to get people on his/her side, perhaps from a professional, ideological or social point of view. For these reasons, charisma is often linked to leadership skills - being charismatic can be an important trait of a successful leader.
When asked to think about a charismatic person, most people think about a public figure, such as a politician, a celebrity or a successful leader. These people are successful, due often to their charisma, but there are also many ‘ordinary’ people who possess a charismatic personality. The popular child at school, the staff in the restaurant who makes the most tips, the popular person in the office who is friendly with everybody.
Some people are more charismatic than others. Although we can recognise charisma, but what exactly makes it? This write-up explores some of the traits of the charismatic person and how such traits may be developed.
Charisma means being confident
Charismatic people are confident people; or, at least, have the ability to appear confident. Being confident to communicate in a variety of situations, one-on-one, in groups and in front of an audience is a skill with which many people struggle. A charismatic person can not only appear confident in communication but they can also help others feel confident too; thus, aiding and enhancing the communication process. Charismatic people are confident in a positive way, without being boastful or egotistical.
As with confidence, charismatic people are or have the ability to appear optimistic. This means they try to see the best in other people, situations and events. They usually remain cheerful and 'bubbly'. Charismatic people have the capability to encourage others to see things as they do, thus they can enthuse and enable others to feel more optimistic.
Being an emotional player
The ability to appear confident and/or optimistic, if you are not, requires a certain amount of ‘acting’. Although charismatic people are very good at showing their true emotions, when this works to their best advantage, they are usually also good at masking or acting in a way that make others believe what they see. The analogy of a swimming swan is useful in this example: calm and serene on the surface but with a lot of hidden activity out of view to the casual observer.
Being interesting and interested
Charismatic people are both interesting as they are interested in others. Naturally, people want to listen to what they have to say, just as they are interested in listening to what others have to say too.
They are good storytellers with an engaging manner, when speaking and explaining. They are able to communicate their message clearly and concisely, being serious and injecting humour where appropriate, to keep their audience attentive and focused. When they are in one-on-one or small group engagements, charismatic people will use open, relaxed, body language, including lots of eye contact. They will watch for feedback from their audience and clarify their position accordingly. When in larger groups or making a presentation, body language will be more exaggerated in an attempt to include everybody.
Charismatic people are also interested in others. They are likely to ask open questions to help them understand views, opinions and feelings of others and, because of their ability to make others feel at ease, they will often get honest and heart-felt answers. The charismatic person can be empathetic and considerate towards others, remembering details from previous conversations and, therefore, gaining respect and trust.
A sincere smile, maintaining eye-contact, being polite and courteous is a very effective way of getting people on your side. People are much more likely to do things for you if they are treated well, and you are nice to them.
As charismatic people want to be able to communicate effectively with others, they are usually good at initiating conversations. They tend to be intelligent, with an up-to-date knowledge on current affairs and rounded general knowledge. This makes small talk, the sometimes awkward beginnings of conversations, easier.
Charismatic people often have expert knowledge in some areas. As a result, they are able to explain complex topics in such a way that their audience understands, as well as adapting their explanations according to the abilities, view-point and expertise of those they are addressing. Expert knowledge also inspires the confidence and belief of others in the abilities of charismatic people.
The power of charisma includes the ability to make people want what you want or unite in a common cause. This ability can be used for both good and bad causes, charismatic leaders may be able to influence and encourage their followers, and motivate people to do what they want. A charismatic confidence trickster may be able to use his skill to gain the trust and respect of his victims before ultimately extorting money or other valuables.
Charismatic people are assertive. But, usually in subtle ways, they can persuade with words, encourage through their optimism and confidence; and be assertive by utilising their understanding of emotions, both theirs and those of other people.
Maintaining attention to detail
Charisma is all about attention to detail, and the detail of how interpersonal interaction takes place. Being charismatic involves communicating dynamically, with passion and enthusiasm, while displaying positive body language. It involves thinking positively, having optimism and self-confidence. It’s being persuasive and building the respect and trust of others.
We can all learn to be more charismatic by developing our interpersonal skills through understanding and practice. Remember, however charismatic you are, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Charisma is a character trait of any good entrepreneur, leader or marketer. What a good thing to know that it can be acquired even where it's absolutely non-existent.
Five qualities of charismatic people: How many do you have?
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have it. Their husbands also have it. The “it” is charisma. Girls and women talk about the power of charisma – how they want it and how they admire it. Take this response from a 17-year-old girl when I asked her why Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, are on her top 10 list of women she admires: “They are charismatic. Who wouldn’t want to look up to a charismatic person?”
And who wouldn’t want to be charismatic? Synonyms for charisma are alluring, bewitching, captivating, fascinating, charming, enchanting, engaging, magnetic and seductive. Charisma is powerful! Charismatic people can make others “drink the Kool-Aid”. When possessed by people like Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, charisma is dangerously powerful. But when it’s used for good, the Kool-Aid is really sweet.
Let’s do a quick word association. Close your eyes and think of the word charismatic. What famous people pop into your head? The first five people who pop into my head are Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. They are followed by Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Oprah, Steve Jobs and George Clooney.
This word association led me to this question: Can someone be charismatic to me, but not to you? I thought about the Beatles. When they arrived in the US in 1964, the Beatles were high on the charisma chart for girls, but low for parents. They had a “mop-top” charisma. They were playful, “fit together” and every girl thought I Want To Hold Your Hand was written just for her. The Beatles were mesmerising to girls, but not so appealing to parents.
Why are some people charismatic and others not? Are we born charismatic or do we cultivate it? And once you have it, can you lose it? Everyone can be charismatic. We are not born charismatic – we cultivate it in many ways. One way is by observing and learning from people who you think are charismatic. You don’t need to copy them, but learn their secrets, try them on and fine-tune them until they fit you. It’s a trial and error process. Bad news is that once you have your charismatic status, you can lose it. Just look at Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan. But here’s the good news: if you lose it, with self-awareness and effort, you can regain your charismatic ranking.
Here are five important qualities of a charismatic person.
- like yourself; it’s much easier for others to like you if you like yourself.
- be optimistic; keep your glass half-full, be enthusiastic
- be comfortable with who you are, be consistent
- hold your own: think Sheryl Sandberg – she holds her own in a male dominated geeky world and is still feminine, she knows herself and isn’t trying to be someone else; don’t trot out all your issues, no one wants to be with Debbie Downer; we all have problems, but compartmentalise them, park them in a corner and bring them out for close friends and family.
Tell great stories
“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms” – Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist. Speak with conviction. Use words like “I am sure” as against tentative words like “I think, I hope and I feel.” Be tuned into humour. Self-deprecating humor can be included - it’s okay to tell a story about an embarrassing moment.
Be relevant. Know what’s happening in the world and around you. People want to be with people who are in the know. Don’t confuse humour with bad jokes. Don’t self-deprecate yourself out of the conversation. Don’t put yourself down so much that it takes away from who you are.
Be open and approachable, gracious and graceful. Walk up to someone, smile, make eye-contact, shake hands. Introduce yourself by saying your name, “Hi, I'm Lawrence, Nwaodu Lawrence.” That way people hear your voice twice. Own the room when you walk into it. Think President Obama when he walks to the podium. Get your own personal swagger. Don’t overdo it. When you smile, be authentic. If your smile is not in your eyes, people will know you're faking it.
Make the conversation about the other person
Let the world revolve around the person you are talking to. Make the person feel like they are the only person on the planet at that time. Immediately put others at ease and make them feel comfortable with you. Don’t let your ego drive the conversation. We all have egos. If your ego is in overdrive, check it at the door.
Be a good listener
You can’t remember everything, but remembering someone’s name is an advantage. Here’s a trick: when you are introduced to a person, immediately repeat their name. Example: “Amanda, it’s so nice to meet you.” Listen with interest. Pay attention. Engage. Be empathetic. Don’t: When you are talking with someone at an event, do not check your cell phone or look around the room to see if someone more important is there. If you want to find someone more important, make the conversation brief and move on graciously.
How many do you have?
Are you charismatic? How many of the five qualities do you have? What about your co-workers, boss, spouse, friends and family – how many qualities do they have? Want to improve your charismatic rank? It’s never too late. Just cultivate it.
For further discussions, business advisory services and training, send me a message via WhatsApp or SMS.
•Lawrence Nwaodu is a small business expert and enterprise consultant, trained in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Management School, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and MSc in Finance and Financial Management Services from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands. Mr. Nwaodu is the Lead Consultant at IDEAS Exchange Consulting, Lagos. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org (07066375847).
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