Do you have one of those friends who absolutely everyone loves? People love talking to them, confiding in them, and they always seem to get ahead in life even when they may not be as smart as you. These people have charisma.
There’s a common misnomer that charisma is one of those things you either have or you don’t. That’s wrong. The deal is charisma is a skill that can be learned, adjusted and practiced. It’s true! In a controlled lab experiment, researchers proved that they could increase or decrease people’s charisma ratings by training them to speak charismatically.
Today I want to share three ways you can instantly boost your charisma and likability when interacting with other people:
Secret #1: Be present
Do you notice that when you talk to charismatic people you feel like you’re the only person in the room? This is because they’re insanely attentive and they make you feel important.
The difference between them and you is that while your mind is racing about what you should say next or how you’re being perceived, they’re “in the moment.” They are present and engaged and that’s why people describe them by saying something like “oh that person just has a presence about them.”
Well, you can too.
How to be present in conversations
Next time you have a conversation, rather than letting your mind run around about how the other person is judging you or what you’re going to make for dinner, focus on the conversation at hand. Observe your mind the next time you’re in a conversation and figure out if your mind was wandering or if you were listening attentively. I like to call this the “mental double-check” and you can do this every few minutes to make sure you’re staying present.
Observe your mind like a parent watching over a playground. Catch yourself if your mind is not focused on the conversation and the other person. If your mind is wandering, draw your mind back to the conversation. Visualize what the person is saying in your mind to stay present.
Remember, what you think in your mind dictates your verbal and nonverbal cues. By focusing on the words and imagining the story the person is sharing, you’ll find it easier to maintain eye contact and react to the other person, making them feel uber important. Since you’re treating them like they’re the only person in the room, you will seem more charismatic and attentive.
Secret #2: Listen
Our society has become so obsessed with broadcasting our own thoughts and emotions that we forget to acknowledge others’ sentiments. Did you know you spend 60% of your time listening and only retain 25% of what you hear?
One of the easiest ways to make people feel good is to show that you’re listening. People love talking about themselves. Harvard scientists studied the human brain while subjects talked about themselves and learned that “self-disclosure” triggers the pleasure center of the brain, the same areas that are triggered by alcohol, sugar and even sex!
So the next time you want to be charismatic….shut up and listen!
How to listen effectively
Julian Treasure, a sound consultant who studies sounds for a living suggests this acronym for conscious listening: RASA
- Receive- receive and pay attention to the other person
- Appreciate- appreciate by using verbal and nonverbal cues like nodding, eye contact or saying “yes”
- Summarize- you can summarize what the other person is saying by using “so”
- Ask– ask questions to get a better understanding of the other person
Keep this acronym in mind the next time you’re having a conversation and notice how much the other person enjoys speaking with you. When others are talking about themselves and those pleasure centers are activated, they’ll be thinking you’re the most charismatic person ever.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill
Secret #3: Establish trust by getting personal
Conversations are two-way streets. Although it’s great to listen, you can’t solely rely on the other person to hold the entire conversation, that would just be awkward. There are also times where you may want to establish trust or take the conversation to a deeper level. You can achieve all these things by sharing something personal about yourself.
Showing vulnerability can go a long way. In an interesting study by Richard Wiseman, two actresses tried to sell blenders to people at the mall. Actress one had a flawless performance demonstrating the blender, actress two “forgot” to put the lid on before blending getting juice all over herself! Guess who sold more blenders? Actress number two. Her vulnerability humanized her, it made her more relatable and people were drawn to that.
How can you begin to show some vulnerability?
How to get personal
Use the conversation at hand to parlay it into an “I” statement where you share an experience or story. For example you could say something like, “When I started a business a few years ago, I learned XYZ” or “When I went through a tough breakup last month, I also XYZ.”
This is especially effective if you’re sharing something that strongly resonates with your conversation partner, like if you both went through tough break-ups.
To take this principle a step further, you can also preface your “I” statements to show that you’re sharing something really personal. You can use phrases like, “I haven’t told many people this…” or “I usually don’t tell people I just met this, but I feel like I can trust you…” this helps establish trust and goodwill, which will likely be reciprocated.
Showing vulnerability can make you relatable which in turn will make you likable and charismatic. So the next time you want to take your charisma to the next level, share something to make a more “human” connection.
Just like social skills, charisma is one of those things that can be practiced and perfected. The next time you have a conversation with someone make it a point to be present, to listen effectively and to share something about yourself so you can up your charisma score.