Published in: 2013
Olivia Fox Cabane is an American author and career coach. Cabane is the daughter of two psychologists who, while growing up, laid the foundation for her interest in the subject of the book: charisma. With the latest from neuroscience, Cabane dispels the myth that charisma is something a few people with the right genes possess.
CHARISMA IS A SKILL. Charisma is not something you are born with; it is a skill that can be trained. Charisma makes others like you, trust you, and want to be led by you. Charisma determines whether you are seen as a follower or a leader. Whether you like it or not, charisma is important – it affects everything that happens to us in our lives.
THREE PARTS. Charisma consists of power, warmth, and presence. A charismatic person gives off a sense of power – he knows where he is going and is sure of his cause. A charismatic person also feels warm and radiates confidence. Finally, a charismatic person is present. If any of the components are missing, the charisma disappears.
CHARISMA COMES FROM WITHIN. Charisma is the result of non-verbal behavior. Body language is more crucial to charisma than verbal skill. What we think and feel is visible in our body language, and we can therefore not be charismatic if we do not also have a charismatic interior. A person with a sharp tongue but a weak body language cannot be charismatic.
THREE WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR CHARISMA. Some simple methods to increase your charisma are to: (1) finish the sentences in a lower pitch, (2) not nod in agreement so often and (3) pause for two seconds before speaking. To increase our “telephone charisma”, a good trick is to close our eyes when we talk on the phone – we then immediately become more present. True charisma, however, must be built from within. It is not possible to fake with any quick tips.
”Striving to acquire external charisma skills without learning how to handle your internal world is like adding pretty balconies to a house with a weak foundation. It’s a nice touch, but at the first earthquake everything falls apart. If your internal state is in turmoil, it’s hard to remember, let alone use, the new skills you’ve just learned.”
PRESENCE IS HARD. A strong impression is only created by being fully present for short periods in situations where others normally aren’t. Some simple tricks to be present are to think about focusing on our breathing or on, for example, our big toe – with this we are put directly into a present mind. If we can increase our ability to be present, we will thereby improve our body language, our ability to listen and our mental focus.
THE IMPOSTOR SYNDROME. Many successful people suffer from what is called “The impostor syndrome” – they feel that they do not know what they are doing and are waiting for someone to expose them as a fraudster. This type of self-criticism is a major obstacle for high-performing people and is often called “the silent killer of business”. Many high-ranking people suffer from this but few dare to talk about it. To reduce our suffering from the syndrome, we can remind ourselves that negativity is something normal everyone feels. We can change our view of the situation by thinking of someone we look up to who has gone through something similar.
APPRECIATE YOUR INCONVENIENCE. Uncomfortable situations will arise in our lives. For that reason, we should not only learn to accept them, but we also need to learn to be more comfortable with them. When they arise, we should not only try to endure them but instead dive into them. We should see ourselves as a scientist trying to investigate how it feels and why. Then we can tackle these situations in the best way come out wiser in the end.
DETAILS MATTERS. When we dress for a workday or social event, we should do it thoughtfully. We should not wear clothes that make us too hot or too cold, avoid clothes that itch or sit badly or are in some way distracting. Even if we do not notice it ourselves, these physical distractions affect us – they eat away at our mental focus and make us less present.