They say that charisma is that special X-factor – X for unidentifiable – that separates those with charm from the few with superstar power. And it can’t be learnt.
Psychologists – people who study the human mind – are not so sure. According to the magazine Psychology Today, charisma can be broken down into a list of personal traits that you can practice.
From studying charismatic individuals like Shah Rukh Khan, Andy Lau and Johnny Depp, psychologists have identified personal qualities that make someone charismatic.
They say it boils down to a bunch of complex and sophisticated social and emotional skills. These skills allow charismatic individuals to affect and influence others at a deep emotional level, to communicate effectively with them, and to make strong interpersonal connections.
Amongst the elements of personal charisma identified are confidence, exuberance, and optimism.
Have you got them? If not, try this.
Start with a smile
A ready smile says that you are confident, exuberant and optimistic.
But surprisingly, even if you are not actually confident exuberant or optimistic, psychologists have found you can get there by simply smiling. When a bunch of test subjects were told to exercise their smiling muscles, their tests for confidence, exuberance and optimism actually increased, compared to the control group who didn’t.
But that’s just the start. Expressivity, sensitivity, control, eloquence, vision and self-confidence also create a charismatic presence. To develop these, work on the following:
Express your emotions
Charismatic people express their feelings spontaneously and genuinely. This allows them to affect the moods and emotions of others. We all know charismatic people who seem to “light up the room” when they enter. They typically express positive emotions, but they can also stir us up when they are angry or irritated.
Be sensitive to others
This is the ability to read another person’s emotions, and allows a charismatic person to make emotional connections by responding to people’s feelings.
This is a quality that is described by some psychologists as being able to make someone else feel like he is the only person in the room.
Control your emotions
Truly charismatic individuals have the ability to control and moderate their emotional displays. They don’t “lose their tempers” , unless they purposely want to in order to make a point.
These are good emotional actors, who can turn on the charm when they need to.
Speak with style
This is a verbal communication skill and affects your ability to engage others socially. Charismatic people are skilled and entertaining conversationalists. They certainly affect us with their emotional expressiveness, but there is also power in whatever they say. Nearly all charismatic leaders are effective public speakers.
Move with the flow
This is skill in reading and interpreting social situations, the ability to listen to others, and be “in tune” with them. It helps charismatic people be tactful and sensitive to their surroundings, and allows them to change their tune when the mood shifts.
This is a sophisticated social role-playing skill that is particularly important for charismatic leaders. It can be seen in the way that charismatic people carry themselves with poise and grace. It allows them to fit in with all sorts of people and make critical emotional and social connections.
Of course, none of that is any good if you have nothing to say. A rising tide lifts all boats, and if you’re not expressing positivity, you can turn from a charismatic person into a hated villain instead.
To cultivate this quality, there is a branch of psychology called “positive psychology” that has sprung up in recent years. More than just a philosophy or theory, it is a branch of psychology that scientifically studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
According to two positive psychologists, Clifton and Rath, ninety nine out of one hundred people would prefer to be around positive people. The individuals believe that they work more productively when they are around positive people. Clifton and Rath believe that ‘positive emotions are an essential daily requirement for survival’.
To find out more, you can google “positive psychology” on the Internet.
Watch your image
Of course, probably the quality that last seals the deal – dashing good looks or cheekbones that can slice cheese will certainly help you command the attention and respect of others. So don’t neglect your personal grooming.
Listen to yourself
The way you use your voice too, bears some scrutiny. Charismatic people play their voice like an instrument, weaving a spell over those they converse with. And charismatic people are dynamic, shifting more between loud and soft tones as compared to those who have vapid charisma.
Practice all these elements, and you have the potential to be one charismatic individual. Just be sure to balance each quality – too much exuberance without emotional control is off-putting to others!LW