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3 Magnetic Qualities of Charismatic People

3 Magnetic Qualities of Charismatic People

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.

– John F. Kennedy

Take a good long look at the photograph above. What do you see? What kind of emotions does it bring up within you?

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This scene radiates an abundance of power and positive emotions. Without even knowing the context of the photograph, you can easily tell that John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was genuinely charismatic. What does this mean? One good way to describe charisma is “personal magnetism,” as described by Olivia Fox Cabane, keynote-speaker and executive charisma coach. In her book, The Charisma Myth, she outlines three keys to charisma that anyone, regardless of personality type, can employ in their daily life.

1. Presence

Presence is the easiest but most misunderstood aspect of being charismatic. How hard is it to be present in an interaction? With our minds wandering about 47% of the time, it turns out, it is quite difficult. Simply put, being present means you have dedicated 100% of yourself to the current interaction. When someone is speaking to you, tune your brain into not only what they are saying, but why they are saying it as well.

Everyone wants to feel important. The best and easiest way to make people feel important is to legitimately listen to what they have to say, and clarify your understanding of their thoughts. This means thoroughly listening to another person’s point of view, instead of planning in your head what you are going to say next. While thinking what you are going to say next, how can you be fully understanding of what another person has to say? When you have an awesome idea, don’t you want people to listen? There is nothing more frustrating than when you have the best idea ever, and nobody seems to want to listen to you. When you finally find someone that makes an effort to understand you, don’t you feel a strong appreciation for them? This is the power of presence, and you can leverage this every day when you interact with people. 

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2. Power

Power is one aspect of charisma that most people find difficult. Power is critical to charisma, simply due to the fact that powerful people attract attention. When you have some kind of desirable knowledge or expertise, people will follow you. People tend to want powerful people on their side. Impressing the boss feels a lot better than impressing the intern, right? The boss has a lot more influence than the intern, so it’s more fulfilling to have them on your side. But if you’re not the boss, how can you come across as powerful? The answer may surprise you.

Studies show that nonverbal communication, also known as body language, makes up around 60% of all interpersonal communication [1]. This implies that your body language is more important than the content that comes out of your mouth. For the common person (a.k.a. not the boss), this is great news. You can convey power without always having something intelligent, witty, or profound to say. The reason that not everyone comes across as powerful is because weakness and insecurity can rear its ugly head in all of your body language and vocal tonality, without you even knowing it. People can easily detect these subtle expressions that you don’t realize you are giving off. So how can you demonstrate powerful body language and vocal tonality?

In order to convey power, it is important to have dominant body language. Claim territory with your body – take up space by comfortably spreading out your arms and legs. Keep your chin up, sit up straight (yes, Mother) and pull your shoulders down and slightly back. Improving your posture has been scientifically-proven to increase testosterone (dominance hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone). Avoid fidgeting and putting your hands near your face or neck – these pacifying behaviors indicate that you are uncomfortable in your environment [1]. Look people in the eye, especially when you are speaking directly to them. This is the most powerful way to deliver a message. One trick I like to remember is whenever I meet someone, I try to find out what color their eyes are right away. This ensures that your first impression demonstrates power and confidence.

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One last key to projecting power is to have good vocal tonality. Make sure that your vocal intonation does not rise excessively at the end of your sentences (as it often does when you ask questions) – this indicates weakness, indecisiveness, and neediness. A recent study done by Quantified Impressions, an Austin, Texas, communications analytics company, showed that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of what they are saying. Think about this fact next time you listen to someone that has strong vocal tonality, but absolutely no idea what they are talking about. 

3. Warmth

Warmth is the final key to charisma, that when combined with the right amount of presence and power, will lead to massive personal attraction. Warmth, unlike presence and power, is the factor that makes you approachable. Warmth is somewhat related to presence, but is more related to providing a feeling of comfort to those you are interacting with. To be warm, it helps to treat others as equals, even though you may be much higher on the social ladder. Making people feel important makes them feel good, and if you are able to become a source of these feelings, people will be attracted to you. Warmth can be achieved by constantly being a source of positive emotions for all around you.

The key to generating massive amounts of charisma is to mix these three qualities in the right proportions. Too much warmth without power can come across as needy. Too much power without presence can come across as arrogant. Too much presence can come across as creepy; you get the picture. It is important to remember that being charismatic does not require an overhaul of your personality- but rather a re-tooling of beliefs about yourself and others that allow you to become a more attractive human being. Experiment with these three qualities to come up with your own personalized charisma concoction, and reap the benefits of becoming a magnetic person.

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[1] Navarro, Joe, and Marvin Karlins. What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-reading People. New York, NY: Collins Living, 2008. Print.

Featured photo credit: The U.S. National Archives via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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