Charisma. How to understand that you have it or not?

Charisma. How to understand that you have it or not?

We often hear the phrases “This person is successful because he is charismatic,” or “His charisma attracts people”. And we wonder what is it about them? What is this charisma and do we have it?

With this article we decided to deal with this question. Looking ahead, we say: it is not an innate skill, nature has nothing to do with it. Charisma can be developed by developing certain skills.

What is charisma?

Charisma was originally defined as a unique gift of body and spirit not available to every person. A little later the opinion about it became more “down-to-earth”, and charisma turned into a set of specific qualities that allow a person to influence those around him.

Charismatic individuals masterfully establish an emotional connection with people, change their opinions and behavior to suit their plans. Due to these abilities, they often become leaders and lead others, with their full consent.

Charisma is a quality that comes in handy in any sphere of life, no matter who we art: a prophet, a car-driver, a senior manager or a salesman. Charismatic doctors tend to have more patients; lectures by charismatic teachers are popular with students. Charisma determines success in politics and acting, and raises sales.

And best of all, this useful quality can be developed. In one experiment, just six weeks of training greatly increased participants’ charisma. Their speech became more emotional and expressive, so that both the subjects themselves and outside observers admitted that their performances looked much more appealing after the experiment.

What does charisma consist of?

Charisma is not some unique gift, but quite a specific set of skills that are present to some extent in every person.

1. Emotional intelligence

In most cases, a person’s emotions take precedence over reason. They form attachment, govern behavior, and underlie all motivation. Therefore, emotional intelligence (the ability to manage one’s own experiences and the feelings of others) is one of the main qualities of charisma.

A charismatic person understands what emotions he is experiencing and why, knows how to sincerely and freely express them in the right moment and suppress them when the situation requires the opposite.

Moreover, a charismatic person has developed empathy (the ability to understand the experiences of others). By responding to the feelings of others, the charismatic leader tunes in with them on the same wave and creates the emotional connection necessary for attachment.

2. Public speaking skills

Another important quality is the ability to structure your speech in a way that engages and persuades listeners and interlocutors. Here are a few verbal strategies that charismatic personalities use:

  • Metaphors. They simplify speech, excite emotions, helps to fix information in memory;
  • Stories and anecdotes. They make a story more lively and closer to the listener;
  • Moral beliefs. Fill speech with deep meaning and arouse sympathy of other people;
  • Sharing the feelings of a person or a group. Forms an emotional connection;
  • Contrasts. They help make speech brighter, focus attention on what is needed;
  • Rhetorical questions. Create a waiting effect, when people anticipate the answer.

The non-verbal component also matters: body position, gestures, expressive facial expressions, intonation. Even the most interesting information will seem boring if you read it in the same manner while standing like a dummy.

3. Self-confidence

High self-esteem and confidence in one’s abilities are mandatory qualities of a charismatic personality. People are willing to follow someone who knows exactly what he is doing and will help them overcome their own doubts and fears.

All these qualities are equally present in charismatic people and allow them to easily arouse sympathy and succeed in any sphere.

How to check the presence or absence of charisma?

This is a difficult task. Charisma is easy to read while talking or watching a video, but remains a blurred concept with no clearly defined boundaries.

To assess charisma, Howard S. Friedman, a professor of psychology at the University of California, has devised a special test. It consists of 13 statements and allows you to assess one of the important qualities of a charismatic personality – non-verbal expressiveness and emotionality.

Friedman found that high scores on his test could predict a person’s popularity and success in teaching, medicine, politics, and acting.

Try taking the test. To do this, rate each of the statements on a nine-point scale, where 1 is “not at all about me” and 9 is “completely about me”. Add up the scores.

  1. When I hear good dance music, I can’t stand still;
  2. I have a loud and infectious laugh;
  3. I can easily express emotion over the phone;
  4. I often touch the person while talking to them;
  5. I like having a lot of people looking at me;
  6. I have very expressive facial expressions;
  7. People say I would make a good actor;
  8. I prefer to stand out from the crowd;
  9. I’m not shy around strangers;
  10. I can make a seductive look if I want to;
  11. I’m strong at games like Crocodile, where I have to act things out;
  12. At small parties, I’m the center of attention;
  13. When I like a person, I touch them or hug them to show it.

The average level, typical of most people, ranges from 56 to 86 points. And the higher the final score, the more charisma you possess.

Remember: even if your scores “hit bottom”, with proper effort you can still develop charisma and become more attractive to others.

How to develop charisma?

Since charisma is a combination of skills, its development also requires a comprehensive approach.

1. Improve your emotional intelligence

Monitor your emotions and determine what triggers them. Learn to react consciously, not automatically. Practice empathy: listen to other people, try to imagine yourself in their shoes and understand what they are feeling.

2. Train your speaking skills

Work on your public speaking skills. Enrich your speech with metaphors, stories, and contrasting examples. Practice expressing emotions through gestures and facial expressions.

In the charisma training experiment, some participants were initially shy about using new strategies. They thought it would look unnatural and silly. However, after watching the video of their performance, they became convinced that it worked and did not look contrived.

A good way to look at yourself is to record a video of your performance, evaluate your skills, and work on your mistakes.

3. Raise your self-confidence

As with speech, it is not too important whether you are confident or only feigning it: people will believe it anyway. What’s more, if you fake confidence long enough, you can actually feel it.

Take body position, for example. It’s proven that open, expansive postures, where a person seems to want to take up all the space around them, change their inner attitude.They provide a feeling of strength and power, reduce stress and increase resilience to risk. At first it’s as if you pretend to be confident and open, and then you really feel it.

Practice these skills, and you can increase your charisma regardless of your baseline.


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