A couple of weeks back, my son and I watched this movie “Hindi Medium” starring Irrfan Khan and others. Irrfan Khan comes across as completely likeable, as usual. He’s such a spontaneous actor and interestingly, he’s not the usual conventional good looking film star. I mentioned this to my son and we got into a long discussion (still ongoing) about how looks don’t matter, and took stock of all those people we were fond of—people who wouldn’t win beauty contests, but had already won our hearts.
I’ve always been fascinated by this attraction.
Have you ever wondered why some people are irresistible while others seem virtually unapproachable? Is it the way they dress, or their hairstyle? Could it be their “perfume”?
Not necessarily, you know.
It is not about the height or the perfect body.
Even a plain Jane dressed modestly can brightly outshine a supermodel if she knows how to turn on the charm. Why, she may even be dressed in tatters and come across as absolutely charismatic.
So what is charisma?
Last summer, The Atlantic magazine described charisma as a boon to the evolution of mankind. I am sure you come across someone with that magnetic pull from time to time. In the work context, persons who show exceptional charisma are natural leaders with the innate ability to easily prompt group cooperation. Charismatic people inspire admiration and encourage teamwork, whether in a tribe of cave dwellers or in a corporate boardroom. In general, one is more willing to form an alliance with a charismatic person than with someone who lacks such social grace. I’ve experienced this first-hand with different types of bosses during my corporate days.
While the above explains in the most basic way how charisma works in a tribal or business situation, what’s even more interesting is that the same sort of “charismatic leadership tactics” outlined inThe Atlantic can apply to any sort of interpersonal relationships.
Charisma is not magic, but the results? Enchanting!
A charismatic person exerts subliminal influence on people because she makes each person she connects with feel as if they are the only person in the room. A conversation with her is meaningful, without appearing to pry. She listens when an individual is speaking and makes the right gestures such as a nod, to let the other person know she is present and engaged, unlike someone who can’t wait to interrupt. The charismatic woman is all there.
Can you actually find your own charisma?
I think you can. I remember one of my ex-bosses, who exuded charisma. He would always learn something about the person he was going to meet and maintain eye contact without staring for too long. He had the gift of listening and offering sincere compliments to whoever he conversed with. We invariably went away feeling motivated and encouraged, especially if our day hadn’t gone so well.
As one of our trainers often remarked, charisma is also about accepting compliments graciously without being self-effacing, as if you didn’t deserve it. Have you noticed how some people just act embarrassed and shrug it off? The relationship experts at Vixen Daily advise that instead of simply muttering a sparse “Thank you,” say something like “That was kind of you to say” or “How lovely that you noticed.”
Can charisma be learned?
The common belief is that people either have charisma or they don’t. Psychology Today disagrees. When the qualities that comprise charisma are deconstructed, it is fairly easy to see what makes some people more appealing and approachable than others. If you look at the key components of charisma, they include exuberance, a friendly voice and easy smile, expressive body language, optimism and, above all, a sense of self-confidence.
I say, rock the stuff you’ve got and forget about your flaws. Toss away self-doubt and focus on your most brilliant features. Don’t shop for outfits that hide what you assume are flaws. Instead, dress to show off what you’ve got to look your best. Combined with this, when you project a great attitude, people tend to sense your charisma. Stride into a room with confidence, and people are bound to be attracted to your exceptionally charismatic energy.
Be all about the other person
Ever noticed how some people pay attention with their ears, face, and body? When engaged in conversation, they stand or sit facing the other person. They don’t fidget, as though they are planning their escape. They smile when appropriate, and always ensure that their eyes smile as much as their mouth does.
Frequent eye contact and timely gestures show the person you’re talking to that you are empathetic to their cause. Forget about opening a friendly conversation with your own agenda in mind. To charm another person, be genuinely interested in what they have to say. If you both truly listen, the conversation is likely to take its natural course without forcing any issues, says YourTango magazine.
Of course, if one is naturally shy, these things seem awkward at first—but you know what they say. Practice. And learn from Irrfan Khan. Or my ex-boss.
What are your thoughts about this?