“Charisma has nothing to do with good looks. I sense charisma over the phone”, a reporter once said to me. “Charisma is not only body language but the spirit in a person which can enlighten a whole room.”
Elsa lost her eyesight when she was three. Does she perceive charisma from other people without seeing them? “Of course,” she said in our interview. “I pick up whether people have charisma. I listen to their voices and when there is a melody and livelihood I know they have it. If the person has charisma it is as if the warm sun shines on your skin.”
What is Charisma?
Charisma is easy to spot but hard to describe. Nailing down a definition is like trying to define happiness, or what constitutes a great holiday. We tend to overuse the term, lavishing it indiscriminately on insolent athletes, glamorous film stars, and fanatic cultists, as well as on genuinely enchanting and inspirational personalities like, Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.
Charisma is the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Sue an old school friend of mine was an ordinary looking girl. Yet for some reason she attracted boys like no one else of us could. Only much later it became clear to me what her magical potion was. Where as the other girls were primarily focussed on their looks Sue was genuinely interested in the boys and knew how to make them feel good. Sue’s self-esteem was so healthy that even though she could not compete with most of the other girl’s physical appearance she radiated inner beauty.
Charisma, writes Harvard anthropologist Charles Lindholm, involves “a compulsive, inexplicable emotional tie.” While charisma, he notes, is thought of as something intrinsic to the individual, it can be revealed only in interaction with others. “Charisma is,” Lindholm says, “above all, a relationship, a mutual mingling of the inner selves of leader and follower.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines charisma as “The powerful personal quality that some people have to attract and impress other people”.
Which employee will get the better position if all competitors had the same skills? The person with charisma.
Who leaves a lasting positive impression in her client’s mind? The sales person with the most charisma.
Charisma is powerful stuff. People who build charisma
• attract the right people
• create the relationships they want
• improve the relationships they have
• get others to listen to them
• influence others positively
• find direction and certainty in modern survivalism
Developing Your Personal Charisma
Most people believe that charisma is something that you are born with. You have it or you don’t. Fifteen years of researching human behaviour and working with thousands of people on improving their personal magnetism show that charisma can be developed.
Every person has the potential for enormous charisma. It is present within each of us though may lie dormant throughout our lives. So why is it that some people seem to have it in bucket loads, while others don’t? What are the qualities that combine to create that personal magnetism we all admire so much?
A study at Mentor University in the United States has revealed seven key personality traits of highly charismatic people:
Speaking with Authority
The ability to articulate your ideas effectively.
The way you carry yourself, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
Listening is a key to communicating and making others feel special in your presence.
Motivating others to follow your lead or adopt your idea.
Space and Time Usage
Honoring another person’s personal space and time will affect the amount of tension and trust.
Building bridges by understanding how to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
Ability to influence others to follow, change their ideas or take action.
Interestingly, we admire those who have the courage to be themselves, who do not please, but are genuinely interested in others and radiate self-confidence and decisiveness that makes us believe in them and follow them. Charismatic people have self-esteem, dignity and a certain type of grace. People respect and like them because they respect and like themselves.
Many people’s natural charisma is overshadowed with a cloud of “who they think they should be”. Charisma radiates when you have the courage to be all that you are – when you expand into your potential. We learn very early in life that sharing our ‘real’ selves is inappropriate and is often not wanted or even criticized. So we try hard to be someone else, and in the process we disconnect from our true power and potential, the very cornerstones of charisma.
How to Unleash Charisma
Whether we are managing a business, a home, a project or raising children, personal charisma creates the magnetism we need to realize our dreams. Our potential is stimulated and our charisma unleashed when the fertile ground of our soul is honoured. When we love and nurture our inner selves we begin the process of realizing our true nature - and charisma follows ‘naturally’.
Charismatic people have the courage to be who they really are. They know their strengths and their weaknesses. They have found their self-value and uniqueness. They have a positive acceptance about themselves and often have the same positive belief in others. This is the foundation upon which they build successful relationships and lives.
Charisma thrives in an atmosphere of self-esteem. Self-esteem gives us the power to be who we really are and the power to attract and lead others effectively. Our self-esteem grows when we have the courage and kindness to be honest with ourselves and provides the ideal inner environment for developing our potential and the qualities of charisma.
To begin the process of enhancing your self-esteem and unleashing your charisma, take a moment to reflect on the following questions:
1. Do you have a vision?
Do you have a vision of who you really want to be in let’s say ten years time? What do you want from life and your relationships? What you can offer to others?
2. Do you speak with authority?
Do you stand up for what you want? How do you communicate what you want and what you have to offer?
3. What is your silent message?
How do other people perceive you? Ask a friend or someone who you trust for their honest opinion about you.
4. How do you persuade?
Is your vision seductive to others? Does it include a benefit for them? Can you communicate your ideas clearly?
5. How do you listen?
When listening to others do you try to understand them and hear what they really say?
6. Do you honour them?
How well do you honour another person even if they have different ideas? How do you accept their opinions?
7. How well do you adapt?
Do you treat others the way they would like to be treated?
People with charisma exude a degree of magic that has the power and magnetism to transform their relationships and circumstances.
It is becoming more important than ever in personal and business life to build charisma. Fast changes and breakdown of companies do not guarantee a secure workplace anymore. We have to adapt and improve our skills. People skills have become recognised as invaluable. People who develop their charisma will develop their people skills naturally. They will not only survive but thrive.
Franziska Goyo is a human relationships expert, keynote speaker and international seminar leader and author of “Push My Buttons, Baby!” – How to create the best relationships ever – The Black Belt of the Emotional Arts .