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Mike McClement

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Blog: what is charisma – and how do you get it?


Why is it that some people just seem to stand out? What is it about these people that leads us to describe them as ‘charismatic’? And just what do we mean by that?

In other words … what is ‘charisma’?
It seems to be a bit of an enigma. It’s a concept we struggle to define for two reasons. Firstly, because we tend not to take the time to think about what we mean by it … when we see someone with ‘charisma’, we register it but don’t ask ourselves why we’re thinking it. And secondly, put simply – it’s a genuinely difficult concept to define.
One thing is certain though – we’d all like to have it.
So, how can you get it?
When I ask people to sum up ‘charisma’, I think the words that hit the mark best are ‘personal magnetism’ and ‘charm’. For me, they sum it up nicely; but still, even these words don’t help to explain what a charismatic person is doing to be described as such. For this, we need to dig deeper.
Having studied charismatic people carefully, it seems that they all have certain characteristics in common.
Despite the strong emotions they often induce in others, charismatic individuals project calmness, self-confidence, assertiveness, honesty, authenticity, enthusiasm and, almost always, they have excellent communication skills. These traits are supported by positive body language transmitted through their posture, facial expressions, eye contact and hand movements.
Using positive body language, communicating clearly and confidently and being passionate about your views helps you to command a presence. This draws people to you and makes them want to listen.
It’s impossible to give detailed advice in just one blog about how to be ‘charismatic’ but hopefully I’ve been able to stimulate your thoughts and give you something to reflect on.
Here are a couple more short and sharp tips – 
  • Be genuine and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. People will respect you for it.
  • Think before you speak. Silence is fine when you have nothing to say.
  • Treat people with respect and make time to listen to their point of view.
  • Smile; charismatic people do this naturally.
  • Remember names and use them.
  • Show energy and enthusiasm, even when you’re not actually interested or you’re tired.
  • Be positive, even when the chips are down. 
  • Support your message with positive body language. Command a presence.
  • Prepare properly; psyche yourself up before you next need to display charisma.
Top tip – The next time you see someone with ‘charisma’, stop and think for a moment. Watch the person and try to get to the bottom of what they’re doing. I do this every time I see charisma … and it works. Once you know the characteristics, you can strive to copy them in your own behaviour.
Fact – Very few ‘charismatic’ people are naturally charismatic without having to try. The vast majority are just very good actors. They know how to play the part.

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