Charisma is a quality that is difficult to put down in black and white – it can be best described as a force of personality, a magnetism that makes heads turn as soon as the individual walks into a room. Then again two individuals may widely vary in personalities but be both considered charismatic in their own ways. But even though charisma isn’t something that subscribes to one-size-fits-all definitions, it is indeed possible to cultivate certain traits associated with a charismatic personality.
If there is one trait that all charismatic individuals seem to possess, it is a quiet self-assurance. They are completely secure in the knowledge of who they are and how they wish to come across to the world. Nothing that others can say and do will have any effect on this self-knowledge and self-assurance. This is why charismatic personalities never appear to be flustered or nervous. While they are invariably pleasing in company, they are never anxious to please others or desperate to make an impression.
If all this is new to you, you can start by boosting your own self-confidence. Unconsciously or not, most men and women are attracted to those who exude self-confidence as they go about their way in life. Start with the basics if you need to and ensure that you are personable and well-groomed at all times. Even though you may not be naturally blessed with killer looks or an hour-glass figure, knowing that you have taken care of your appearance will automatically lend you a confidence while interacting with others.
Sometimes a person may be impeccably turned out and yet certain gestures and mannerisms may make him/her come across as low in confidence and hence not worth giving a second look. Chewing nails, fidgeting with your handbag or tie and glancing all around the room except the person you are speaking to are some of the most common signs which are construed as signs of nervousness or anxiety. The next time you are in company, be sure to adopt a relaxed and upright posture instead of stooping or slouching. Look at the person you are talking to in the eye and lean slightly forward to show interest. Keep your hands on the table if you have a tendency to fidget and above all speak in a natural tone, volume and pitch instead of using a staccato or hurried pace of voice.
Work on your communication skills
Charismatic people can convey their own feelings and ideas in a powerful way. They are able to state things clearly, and they use suggestive words that elicit powerful emotions. Apart from this, they have the knack for active listening – this not only means paying attention to what the other person is saying, but also being able to hear what has not been said, but it is there. It means understanding the needs and nuances certain words convey as well as picking up emotions certain body language reflects.
The thing about charisma is that it is a highly individualistic trait. Thus in order to appear charismatic, the last thing you should do is ape someone who is generally thought to be successful – whether on the basis of looks, material possessions or social popularity. Sometimes, men and women tend to go overboard while trying to achieve an attractive personal style. If you find yourself looking at the airbrushed models on Vogue with envy and craving the figure or dresses they have, remember that they are being paid to survive only on lettuce and yoghurt and that they don’t really own the apparel or jewelry they advertise. Likewise if you think that merely buying a million-dollar convertible will make you come across as charismatic, you are again mistaken. Comparing yourself to others, even if they belong to your own social circle, will bring up your own perceived deficiencies and only depress you further. Similarly imitating the mannerisms and possessions of other charismatic people will make you out as a wanna-be and not the genuine thing.
Play up your strengths
A great way to bring back the focus from what others have to what you possess is to think about your greatest strengths. Consider what you have that others around you don’t – it could range from a rapier-sharp wit or a widely-read intellect to culinary skills or perhaps an amazing smile which lights up even the cloudiest of days. Go over all the skills you possess or the things that interest you like a talent for organizing parties or making magic on the violin and then determine how you can leverage your strengths to create an advantage for yourself on the social scene. If you can turn out the fluffiest of pastries, take part in baking contests in your city and in TV shows which can make you a celebrity in your community. Alternatively pitch in a friend’s party with home-made cookies and then get ready to revel in the dozens of compliments - and perhaps even an attractive date - that are sure to come your way. Likewise you can use whatever pluses you have like an interesting hobby or personal charm to give you an edge; every person is born with a special set of talents and you need to recognize and nurture that so that others in turn recognize your unique worth and are attracted to it.
Cultivate an interesting personality
But then being charismatic is not the same thing as being an expert in a particular field – if this were true, the geek from your high-school would have been on the guest list of every party in town. Being charismatic is more about being interesting in a social way and one way to do this is to introduce people to new things - not so much as straight-up facts or dry statistics but rather things such as little pieces of trivia, ideas, tastes, concepts, philosophies, perspectives, or world views. Expose yourself to new ideas, listen to new music, travel to new places and read new books. Absorb the essence of all these and relate it to others in a fun, witty and interesting way. Don’t be afraid to offer original or even a little controversial opinions at times. Those who tamely follow majority views and opinions are rarely considered charismatic personalities. In fact people are always intrigued by the new and innovative and whether they agree or not, are drawn to the source of such ideas.
Develop your social intelligence
Finally the best-kept secret of charismatic individuals is their highly evolved social intelligence. They have an almost sixth sense of picking up the vibes that are being sent all around them and in response they adapt their social behavior to produce effective results. Likewise you need to develop an instinct for the things people around you want to hear about and do. There's no point in saying or doing something if others don’t care about it. Instead keep in mind the kind of audience you have and tailor your responses to what they'd prefer to hear about rather than what you wish to talk about.