Charisma comes from within. You must be sure of yourself, open to others, and knowledgeable. But most of all, you gotta be cool. Here are seven excellent ways to be highly charismatic. Get ready to stand out in a crowd!
1. Be malleable, but have boundaries.
Charismatic people have boundaries, but they learn to let the right kind of people in. There are people in the world who have bad intentions, and you must guard yourself against these poisonous relationships. People will want to hurt you by cutting you down, or they may want to use and abuse what you can do for them. Remember that you can’t be everything to everyone. (That would make you a people pleaser.) Instead of just reacting to people like this, follow what you feel intuitively and take yourself out of the equation. It’s not worth your time and energy if you feel that you are being manipulated by someone.
On the other hand, learn to conform to the situation at hand. Is there a need that you can help provide for? Great innovators throughout history made their mark by simply helping where they saw a need. And recognize when it is a good idea to get out of the way. Often, a group may function well without you, and that is more than okay! It will free up your time to pursue your own endeavors.
A great leader who embodies this concept comes to us from mythology: King Arthur. Arthur made it a point to listen to anyone who had a need, and he would often devote many of his knights to the cause. But he was also wise to consult Merlin; because King Arthur took the time to set up boundaries with his subjects, many who tried to manipulate him were thwarted beforehand.
By allowing yourself to adapt to the needs of a group, others will recognize the value of your participation. You will be called upon for your input, and appreciated for your drive.
2. Be aware of your presence (then forget about it!).
Start with a pristine awareness of how you feel and how you look.
Be true to your mood. Nobody enjoys it when you’re hiding something or concealing your true feelings. If you are feeling out of sorts, find ways to pull yourself back together. Exercise and eating right can help tremendously in maintaining a good mood. Treat yourself!
On the TV serial Twin Peaks, the highly charismatic character Agent Cooper says, “Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.” In this way, you can lift yourself up. Others will see your positive attitude and want to know your secret.
In contrast, don’t talk too much about the day-to-day hassles. Granted, sometimes you will be in a state of grief; it is certainly okay to talk about your burdens with close friends and family. But the average person you come across has struggles too, so don’t clutter up the conversational cargo with your baggage.
Have a clear sense of style and a clean disposition. Find clothes that fit your personality and craft your wardrobe accordingly. Style your hair the way you want, and keep your body clean. Your body language will say a great deal about you, so be sure to stand up straight and make eye contact with people. When you look good, you’ll feel good!
Now that you’re in touch with your presence – forget about it! Immerse yourself in understanding where you are, who you are with, and what is happening instead. If you appear to be overly concerned with your look or your mood, others may believe you are a narcissist or a drama duke. Everything’s in its right place, so don’t worry about it.
Jennifer Lawrence embodies this highly charismatic quality in her public presence. Watch any interview, and you can see how she intrepidly responds with humor and authenticity. J. Law doesn’t worry about how people will react to what she says, confidently expressing her unique style and presence.
3. Give your attention to others.
Listen. Don’t just wait to speak. Engage others with how you orient your body to theirs – are you leaning in? Check in with your eyes, and guard your mind from distraction. Reinforce this by repeating your understanding and asking brief questions. Cultivate an intuitive, emotional awareness of what others are going through. And remember not to be too eager in conversation, as your interest may sound disingenuous. Think of what you would expect a listener to do when you have something to share.
Don’t try to turn the conversation in any particular direction, either. Since you’ve immersed yourself in what is happening, let that lead you. If others want to hijack the conversation, go ahead and let them. The ability to interrupt is overrated. Sure, it earns you a moment to put in your two cents, but it leaves you socially bankrupt.
Susan Sarandon recently told an audience at the Enzian in Maitland, “I’m just a very good listener. That was sexy on screen. This is for you guys out there, too. Be a good listener.” Ms. Sarandon shows her magnetism both on and off screen, and it’s her attentiveness that adds to her allure.
4. Know what you know, and stand by it.
You must show interest in others, but you must also be interesting! Know what drives you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, what makes your spirit sing. Study it well, and specialize in it. Others will want to know what you know well. You make them interested because: a) they may know nothing about it, or b) they know something about it and they want to share what they know, too. In either case, your exuberance will show that you have a resounding passion for something.
Stand by your passion. People will want to argue semantics, and challenge what you know. This can be a good thing, especially if they are engaged. (Remember your boundaries, of course, and guard against those with bad intentions.) Share your viewpoint in turn, and be sure to take in the opinions of others, as well. A great listener will appreciate your candor, and admire your ability to practice what you preach.
If people are not interested in your passion, that’s OK too. Often people share different viewpoints, and they may feel that you have little to share that they are interested in. In these moments, it’s good to ask them about their passions. When you step outside of yourself and show them that you’re interested, they will be happy to share.
Perhaps one of the most highly charismatic people on earth – one of my favorites – is Barbra Streisand. She knows what she knows, she wears it well, and she doesn’t give a hoot about negative criticism. Barbra once said, “A human being is only interesting if he’s in contact with himself. I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you ought to do the way you should do it. You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.”
Her fans respect that she is a master of performance and true to herself. Most of all they love her ability to overcome adversity, because she stands for what she knows is right.
When you enrich your life with this kind of knowledge, you build character: knowing yourself magnifies your presence in the public eye.
5. Show confidence in your optimism.
It is right to be confident, but not overconfident. And it is right to be optimistic, but not delusional.
Since you have an understanding of your presence, have confidence in what you believe. There may be those who criticize your focus and determination – more than likely, they wish they could exude the same confidence. Always avoid hubris; overconfidence can turn people off. Just take stock of exactly what you are capable of, and own it proudly. When you are true to your beliefs, there is an authenticity in the way you conduct yourself. People will admire you for your stick-to-it-ive nature. No one can criticize you for a well-thought-out approach to life.
Optimism is defined as “a disposition to look upon the favorable side of events, expecting a positive outcome.” To live your life in this manner takes inscrutable courage, and there will be many who will not share your outlook. Spend your time visualizing your desires, as this will create opportunities; you will enable yourself to see what paths may open up to you.
Remember to be practical about the details. Optimism is not fantasy. When you dream about what you want, remember to make a road map. Set reachable, consecutive goals along the path to your ultimate desire. When you have a clear picture of the means to reach your final destination, you can achieve great success by taking the journey one step at a time.
With confidence and optimism, you navigate the world bearing a cheerful disposition and a bubbly personality —alluring qualities that will most certainly inspire those around you.
6. Learn about the past and stay current.
The world around you is not static. It is constantly reshaping itself, and it is up to you to stay apprised with what is happening.
Every day, you must cultivate what you know about current events and culture. Read the news. Listen to contemporary music. Go to the movies and watch (some) television. Go to art shows and attend live events. And more than anything else, travel to exotic places. Nothing will provide you with a more worldly perspective than getting out of your comfort zone.
Educate yourself. Read the classics. Listen to the music that inspires you. Watch old films. Expand your knowledge of history both locally and abroad. Look up words you don’t know in the dictionary. Go to museums and view precious works of art. Visit the places that inspire you with their architecture.
Among the most charismatic comedians these days is Louis C. K. Everyone is interested in what he has to say because he makes revelations about the human condition, and backs it up with what he has learned about the world. In one of his comedy acts, he reveals his own outlook on why we should educate ourselves: “‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of.” So embrace the world around you with exuberance!
When you have a working knowledge of the past and the present, people will be delighted not only to have a conversation with you, but they will love to be around you and wish to work with you.
7. Just be cool.
Nothing gets you more respect and admiration that being cool. Since the word “cool” has a number of meanings, I’ll define as maintaining a relaxed perspective and a unique presence. You have to accept the moment as it comes, and avoid reacting disproportionately. Take it all in, let it affect you, and then respond with cool confidence.
Furthermore, it’s darn good to have an edge. So let it loose! People like to see someone who’s out of the ordinary. Have a good sense of humor, but avoid making fun of others. (That will only diminish your charisma.) From time to time, have the attitude of a trickster: How can your attitude spice things up? It’s almost always good to have a little fun, and people will love your creativity and ingenuity.
Being cool is not always about being a non-geek. Though she might not be as slick as Russell Brand or the Fonz, Katy Perry is as cool and charismatic as they come. But she didn’t start out that way; she grew up in a strict religious environment. Breaking free of her upbringing, she now amplifies her charisma in fun and sexy ways. And she’s not afraid to display her geeky qualities from time to time either.
All of the ways to be highly charismatic rely upon your coolness. You have to have style and cultural knowledge, and you have to know how to have a conversation. You’ve got to be sure of yourself and what you stand for. And you certainly have to go with the flow from time to time. That makes coolness the most important aspect of charisma — all of the other charismatic characteristics call upon your cool in order to magnetize your personality!
As you journey through life, practice these methods of charisma. Little by little, you will find that people come to you for help and advice, and that they genuinely want to spend more time with you in public and in private. Find what works for you within these guidelines, and you are sure to be surrounded by people who see you for all that you’re worth.
Featured photo credit: Public Domain via commons.wikimedia.org
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