“A knife can be used both to heal and to hurt. Whether in the hands of a surgeon or the hands of a criminal it’s the same instrument. Tools are seldom good or bad per se. It’s what you do with your charisma that matters.” -Olivia Fox Cabane, The Charisma Myth
At the heart of someone who possesses real charisma is that the people in their presence feel special and walk away with a boost of energy, a shot of confidence and the knowledge that they’ve been heard, noticed, seen. However, it is important to point out, that in the hands of the wrong people or people with the wrong intentions, charisma can devastate. This is when charisma turns into the alter-ego of suave, unctuous, and ingratiating – in other words, too polished to be real.
Much like the adage, “With great power, comes great responsibility”, learning the tool of charm must be used carefully and respectfully. While me may assume that we are either born with charm or not, that is actually entirely false. Charm is something we learn, either by observation of others subconsciously – our parents, friends, older siblings – or out of need, to obtain what we need to survive and then thrive.
And therein lies the good news, we can learn to become more charismatic. And even better, upon realizing that it is a learned trait, albeit some people have personalities that make it easier most definitely, such as being more gregarious and extroverted, we can then realize the power it wields, whereas if we subconsciously picked up said abilities, we may not realize how devastating such charisma can behold.
But now we all know, so let us lead by positive example, no?
Charm has the ability to gain us favor, garner desired attention, strengthen relationships and lead us to success. To pair integrity with charm is a surefire combination for a sound night’s sleep and a life traveling the path of contentment and fulfillment.
So what exactly makes someone appear charming? Olivia Fox Cabane points out that it is a combination of exuding high power and high warmth. Those around you perceive you to be someone who is willing and potentially able to influence the world in a positive way and just as importantly, define you as someone who is trustworthy and genuine.
After diving into The Charisma Myth, I have made a list of 17 habits that will help us all to become “naturally” charismatic. In doing so, you will be on your way to improving the quality of your life. Let’s get started.
1. Successfully Manage Your Mind
Mastering our thoughts is a necessary tool to live a fulfilling life, but it is just as important when it comes to being charismatic. We must filter out negative thoughts that will dash our confidence and push people away. If we are effectively mastering our minds, we determine our attitude and thereby attract more warmth from others to us.
2. Check Your Tone
How we speak is just as important as what we are saying. And simply by lower the intonation of our voice at the end of sentences, we can convey a sense of confidence to those who are tuning in.
3. Speak slower. Take longer pauses.
Similar to the tone of our voice, the pace of our speech establishes a tone of calm, certainty, whereas conversely, harried anxiety and stress can be created with a quickened pace. By slowing down our speech, pausing between sentences and thoughts, we are conveying a sense of control which also is often equated to one having confidence and certainty about what they are sharing.
4. Remain Calm
Especially during times of crisis, but even in our everyday lives, someone who is calm is a safe harbor for anyone who is not sure where to turn. When we exude a tranquil disposition, we physically are expressing that we can handle the situation, even if it will take time.
5. Be Completely Present
Simply by turning off our phones, refusing to be distracting by others walking by or noises that occur while we are spending time with someone, we are communicating non-verbally that their presence is our primary focus.
6. Focus on Others
The Charisma Myth underscores the primary goal of one who has charisma as “making others feel intelligent, impressive and fascinating”. To truly have charisma is to be selfless which takes conscious effort with every interaction we are in.
7. Offer Goodwill Towards Others
Being the sunshine in someone’s day is a thoughtful gesture that forces us to step out of our world and consider what someone else needs in that moment. Doing so will often come as an unexpected surprise to the recipient, but certainly won’t be forgotten.
8. Offer a True Smile
Smile with your eyes as well as the corners of your mouth which reveals a sincerity toward the person you are directing your attention towards.
9. Stop Comparing
Letting go of the need to compare quickly allows us to relax and be ourselves, and at the same time, enjoy those we are spending time with for their unique gifts, personalities and talents. Rather than one-upping our friends, family members or colleagues, why not revel in their successes, and they will be more likely to reciprocate as they will appreciate your support and attention.
10. Use Your Memory as a Tool
When we remember past experiences when we felt absolutely triumphant – we can grab onto that energy for a confidence boost whenever we are about to dive into something that perhaps we are uncertain about.
11. Rev Up Your Oxytocin
Sometimes called the “hug hormone” or “cuddle chemical”, this natural hormone is released in the brain as a way to help us connect to others. Olivia Fox Cabane points out that to recognize its power is to harness it for good means, so the next time you are anxious about meeting new people in an uncertain, but necessary setting, either physically hug someone who you care about just before attending, or remember having done so and often a similar effect, the oxytocin being released, will occur making you more open and warm toward others.
12. Let Go of Expectations
Instead of holding fast to expectations, decide instead to be grateful for all that is going well and don’t allow what you expect to happen dictate your mood as it will make you appear desperate and needy.
13. Walk Tall, Sit Large
Our physical presence is often the first impression received by others, so it is essential that we be aware of how we physically stand and sit. Standing up straight, relaxing in an open posture, and uncrossing our arms are just a few ways of taking up the necessary space – non-verbally communicating that we deserve to be where we are and that we are worthy of attention.
14. Warm-Ups Help
Yes, warm-ups. To help put ourselves in the right frame of mind, doing something prior to a nerve-racking event that will boost our energy, confidence and mood is a great idea. Whether it’s spending time with a friend who always makes us feel good after being in their presence, making sure to exercise or reading a passage from a book that reminds us of what is possible, be proactive and warm-up.
15. Speak Visually
Many people are visual learners, so painting a picture in their minds with your words by using analogies, metaphors, or imagery is a great idea. The key is to know your audience and their background so you can speak to ideas and concepts that they would quickly grasp and understand.
16. Be Humble
Humility is a core component to true charisma as in so doing you are being selfless and acknowledging those around you. Whether it is receiving a compliment, but also noting those who helped you achieve your success, or thanking someone for their compliment, but also their thoughtfulness to take the time to say so, you are involving others, and presenting a sincere humble demeanor which is always more attractive than the alternative.
17. Maintain Eye Contact
Being able to look someone in the eye while conversing with them not only tells them you have their full and undivided attention, but it also assures them that they are your top priority in that moment. And when someone feels important, they are more willing to work with you, engage with you and contribute in whatever way could potentially be beneficial for both parties.
Charisma is a powerful tool, and the good news is we can all possess it. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be aware of how we use it. Because when we use it for good, not only do our lives improve, but those around us as well.
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