The Charisma Myth

Summary: “Charisma can be learned and perfected by anyone.” 

What exactly is charisma? Can you learn it or do you have to be born with it?

Here’s a passage from the book The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane: “Charismatic individuals choose specific behaviors that make other people feel a certain way. These behaviors can be learned and perfected by anyone. In fact, in controlled laboratory experiments, researchers were able to raise and lower people’s levels of charisma as if they were turning a dial.” So yes, you can learn it. Let’s talk about exactly what it means to be charismatic.

According to Cabane, a charismatic person consistently demonstrates three behavioral characteristics: presencepower and warmth. However, presence is the real core element of charisma. It’s the foundation upon which all else is built. Being present means having a moment-to-moment awareness of what is happening. Presence is all about focus. One good definition of focus is: Doing something and thinking about what you are doing at the same time. If you get the mental state of presence right, a lot of other very good things that project charisma will follow naturally.

Here’s an idea for practicing presence. Whenever you begin interacting with another person, think of the words “Right Now…I am with Jane (or whatever his or her name happens to be). Let that be your mental trigger to remember to be fully present with them. Let the “Right Now…” statement be your way of shifting into a mental state of being totally focused on the other person.

Charisma is mainly about how others feel when interacting with you. At a minimum, make sure they walk away “feeling heard”, valued and accepted. Consider this one good way to turn the dial up on your level of charisma.

Charisma can help you joyfully participate in life. In today’s society, being fully present with people is also a way to be considered a unique person.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris


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