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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 July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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