Charisma is an individual’s ability to engage and influence others. It originates from the religious interpretation of authority. It was Max Weber, a German sociologist who first introduced and applied it for secular use. His definition? “Charisma is a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them, the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”
To translate this to everyday use. It is about getting the attention of others without apparent effort. Charisma can be defined as attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion and admiration in others and influence people around you.
Charisma is often seen as something that you are either born with or not, but when you break it down to its components, it can be learned. You need to exhibit certain things to have charisma, such as being confident, optimistic, good with emotions, interested in others, friendly and approachable to others, appearing intelligent, and having a lively and expressive body language. Additionally, you should have a smile on your face which will put people at ease and sound friendly when speaking. In addition, voice projection must be calm so as not to come across as forceful or condescending; finally, the message needs to be conveyed in a timely manner so that the listener feels like they are getting the most important information from what is being said.
Charisma is often associate with extroverted individuals or introverts acting in an extroverted way because they are passionate about something. It certainly pays off to work on some of the skills mentioned. Still, ultimately, you don’t have to be charismatic to be a great leader. It can help you sell the vision, but it can be detrimental if you need to get things done.
There is a dark side to charisma. Researchers found that leaders who are seen as highly charismatic may also be seen as less effective at leading a business. In the research study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the researchers focused on 800 business leaders worldwide from various management levels. They talked with 7500 of their peers, subordinates, and superiors. They found that the perception of a leader’s charisma increased along with their perception of that leader’s effectiveness. But only to a certain point at the 60th percentile.
The concept of too much of a good thing applies here. Charisma can have a powerful effect on the effectiveness of a leader, but if it goes too far, the perception of the leader’s effectiveness starts to decline. This is because highly charismatic leaders also perceive themselves as being highly effective, which means they remain unaware of their own weaknesses and possible failings.
There are aspects of charisma that will work for you just fine. But don’t feel the need to be a charismatic, gregarious person. That is the extrovert’s way. There is an alternative, more introvert-friendly charisma. Go for an intriguing introvert.
As Michaela Chung writes in The Irresistible Introvert, intrigue is a quality that might work for introverts quite well. Our thoughtful and quiet approach creates a certain aura of mystery around us that makes people curious and want to be close and learn some of our secret mysticism. We can arouse interest and curiosity from others. Consider these tips if you’re looking to build your charisma in an introverted way.
1. Be a little weird
I love the quote by Sue Fitzmaurice and have it printed on my wall, “Being a little weird is a side effect of being awesome.” It is important to stand out from the crowd in a subtle way. Few people feel comfortable being too different, and there is no need for that. Don’t be like everyone else but do not force yourself to be too different either.
2. Try new things
Trying new things is a great way to build confidence and learn new skills. It also helps you expand your worldview and gain new experiences to make you a more rounded individual. By trying new and even unorthodox activities will also increase your intrigue levels. One of my friends is a beekeeper. You don’t see that every day. What about learning to play a musical instrument. What about training for a half-marathon, joining a local non-profit, learn painting, take a bartender course, learn some magic tricks, enter a university, and attend some history classes? Whatever you do, trying something new will make you feel better about yourself. It will allow you to grow. It will also make you more intriguing in the eyes of others.
3. Do the unexpected
There is a higher level of being a bit weird, doing the unexpected. Breaking the norms and expectations every so often makes you stand out of the crowd and will give you the aura of someone who is not afraid to go against the flow. The same applies to voicing opinions that you know might be a bit controversial. One of the most difficult things for me to do in my adult life was to start a blog. By itself, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal until you realize that some of the things you want to write may be controversial for some people. Once you write them, there will be people who will agree and support you, but there will also be those who will disagree and even shame you. Doing the unexpected and being willing to stand by your opinion will make you much more intriguing than someone too afraid to say what they think as they worry about backlash.
4. Don’t watch TV
You have better things to do than wasting time in front of the TV or on social media. No one is particularly intriguing if all they can talk about is what they saw on TV. It indicates that you have no real life, so you need to escape to a virtual one. Being able to join a conversation about the latest hit movie is nice, but you shouldn’t succumb to the social pressure, and you definitely shouldn’t have this as the only excitement in your life.
5. Own the space around you
It is more about the internal mindset that can put you at ease. Combined with a smile, you then send the message to the outside world, “this is my space… welcome.” You don’t need to say a single word. Just by your confidence and body language alone, you can own the room. Being introverted doesn’t mean you should stay shrouded in some dark corner.
6. Turn feeling weird and lost into an advantage
This is a great way to survive a social event while becoming more important and noteworthy. Take a proactive role and become the meet-and-greet person. Whether it is a party or a part of your job at the company by welcoming arrivals or new employees will make you useful and appreciated by others. Everyone will immediately know who you are. They will have a reason to talk to you. You will play a vital role, making it easier to talk to these people later on.
7. Stay in the moment
If you lose interest in the conversation or other people, your body will let them know, and they will lose interest in you. Not many people realize how damaging it is to their charisma and intrigue if they don’t pay attention. Just test it sometime. When someone talks to you, pay attention initially, but in the middle of their monolog, shift your attention to your phone. You will see that their monolog will start to dwindle. Eventually, they stop, sometimes even saying something along the lines, “I seem to be boring you.” You lost interest in them, so they lose interest in you. By paying attention, listening attentively, and asking questions, you not only show the other person that they are interesting, but you also become more interesting to them.
8. Meet new people
It comes with trying new things. People will see you more positively, and you become more interesting if they believe that you are popular with others. Meeting new people may not come easily to introverts. However, there are ways to make it a bit easier. Consider your hobbies and passions and then look in your surroundings for some community or interest group you could join. Whatever your hobby is, if you can find a group of like-minded individuals, you will expand your circle of interesting people and potential friends. You will enjoy it as they will have the same interests and you will feel that you belong.
9. Don’t boast but drop hints and leave it there
You are going for a certain mystique. You do all these cool things, but you don’t advertise it too much. If you do, you would be just a boastful jerk who appears desperate and needy. Suppose you casually mention during a conversation that you saw something similar to what is being discussed during your recent trip to Africa and move on. In that case, you will pick an interest, and sooner or later, people will come back to you wanting to know more about your trip. Just be careful not to humblebrag as that feels disingenuous.
10. Shine the spotlight on others
Since you are confident and a bit mysterious, you don’t need to talk about yourself, but you do want to praise others. Giving credit and talking positively about others in their presence and even when they are not around is a great way to make yourself into someone who others want to have on their side. You don’t necessarily need to be someone’s boss to recognize their excellent work and help them with their career ambitions.
11. Don’t gossip
Most people enjoy a bit of gossip, and there are evolutionary reasons behind it. However, if you laugh at people behind their backs, those in your presence will wonder whether you do the same to them when they are not around. If you need to talk about others when they can’t hear you, then speak positively. As your mom probably told you, when you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
12. Laugh at yourself
You should never comment on others’ failings behind their back, but you should feel free to share your failings and mistakes. Do it in a way that helps others learn and shows you as a humble human being who learned a valuable lesson. A bit of self-deprecating humor often does the trick. If you can laugh at yourself, you will immediately become much more likable. A side effect of laughing at yourself is that it prevents others from laughing at you. They will join and laugh with you, and that creates a very different emotional connection and vibe.
Putting it all together
The conventional wisdom is that extroverts are more charismatic than introverts. This isn’t easy to prove, but while extroverts are more sure of themselves and come out as positive, they are not necessarily better at eliciting positive emotions in others. And that is what you need, to be seen as charismatic.
But if you feel charisma is not your thing, don’t worry. Go for being intriguing. You do it by listening attentively, being a little weird, trying unusual things, doing the unexpected, not wasting time with TV and social media, meeting new people, and focusing fully on the conversation you are having. Don’t gossip. Shine the spotlight on others and laugh at yourself. By doing these things, you will become more likable and, indeed, intriguing.
What is your take on the topic? Do you believe charisma is important? Do you think that becoming intriguing can have the same benefits as being charismatic? What are the challenges? Have you tried to become more charismatic or more intriguing? What were the results?
Photo: KELLEPICS / Pixabay.com
For more, read my blog about management, leadership, communication, coaching, introversion, software development, and career TheGeekyLeader or follow me on Twitter: @GeekyLeader
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