Some people walk into a room and all heads turn. When they begin to speak, people are mesmerized. They instantly gain respect and trust. In a word, they have charisma, one of the most desirable and enviable qualities in the world.
What is charisma? It’s hard to define, but it is many things, such as likeability. If you want to influence people, they must like you and respect you. But charisma is so much more. I believe the definition is found in the letters of the word itself.
Confidence. Confidence doesn’t come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with it in their careers. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you’re willing to work hard. Charismatic people believe in themselves, and share that confidence with the people around them. We want to follow leaders who believe they (and we) can do anything. Don’t ignore obstacles, but focus on what you can achieve.
Happiness. I believe we were born to be happy. The happiest people I know are not the richest or the most attractive or even the best at what they do. The happiest people are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same things. True happiness lies in satisfaction, which is an essential element of charisma. People who are happy are much more pleasant to be around. And they tend to spread happiness.
Authentic. Be real, be yourself, be consistent. When people know what to expect from you, they are more comfortable approaching you. Even if there may be disagreement or difference of opinion, they know whom they are dealing with, and that you have values and standards that are constantly demonstrated.
Respect. Charismatic people not only command respect, they offer it in return. You will never meet a charismatic bully – no one likes to be pushed around. I think that one of the most important skills to master is learning how to respectfully disagree. Even when you don’t agree with them, or you want them to do something different, give supporters, potential allies, and even adversaries your full attention when they’re speaking. Show that you respect their viewpoint, and they’ll more readily listen to you and your ideas.
Interested. Are you the person who walks into a room and announces, “Here I am!” or are you more likely to say “It’s so good to see you!” Putting the emphasis on others is not only charming, it’s a wonderful way to acknowledge that they are important to you.
Smile. It’s so simple, yet so significant. People like to be around pleasant people, and nothing communicates that better than a smile.
Mannerisms. Body language must match speech. Watch how charismatic people walk into a room, how they shake hands, how they hold themselves while listening to others. Good posture and confident body language can win people over on a subliminal level.
Attitude. The late Steve Jobs, the computer genius who co-founded Apple, was a very charismatic leader of technical people. When his group was designing Apple’s new Macintosh computer, Jobs flew a pirate flag over his building. Its purpose? To signify his team’s determination to blow the competition out of the water. He demonstrated the kind of can-do attitude that is contagious – with confidence in the people around him to produce successful results. Such validation makes a leader very charismatic indeed.
“The most important single ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to get along with people,” President Theodore Roosevelt said. I believe that statement is timeless. I have never met a successful person who hasn’t figured out how to get along with others.
To that end, I have relied on the guidance of two of my favorite authors throughout my career. Here are a couple nuggets of their wisdom:
Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking” said, “Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them.”
Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” said: “You can win more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
I recommend you put them at the top of your reading – or re-reading – list.
Mackay’s Moral: Charisma is likeability on steroids.