Developing Charisma

Increasing Your Influence in the Workplace

Crayon standing out.

Charisma helps you stand out from the crowd.

© iStockphoto/newman

Have you ever worked with a very charismatic leader? If so, then it's likely that almost everyone in the organization liked, trusted and admired this person.

People listened when she talked, colleagues supported her ideas, and talented people wanted to join her team. In short, everyone wanted to be around this person!

Charisma is something that many people believe you're born with. However, this isn't the case – you can become more charismatic, and we'll explore how you can develop charisma in this article

Defining Charisma

Charisma is a collection of traits and behaviors that make you appeal to other people. The word comes from the Greek word "charis," which means "grace" or "gift."

A person who is charismatic is exceptionally engaging, likeable, trustworthy, and, in many cases, a bit "magical." Larger-than-life personalities like Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Sir Richard Branson have all been known for their charismatic personalities.

People with charisma are assertive, confident, inspiring, and warm. They make a point of listening to others, and they have an innate grace that often stops people in their tracks.

As such, it's great to be charismatic in business, even if you are not in a leadership role. When you have charisma, people want to work with you. They're drawn to your ideas, they trust your opinion, and they're more likely to be influenced by you.

Charisma and Power

Charisma is a form of "referent power," which social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven identified as one of the five bases of power  . Referent power is influence that you have because other people like and respect you.

With that in mind, remember that charisma can be misused. Don't use it to manipulate others into doing something that is against their interests.

Developing Charisma

Charisma is nothing more than a set of traits and behaviors that, when put together, turn you into a magnetic, engaging personality. Plenty of research shows that you can learn and perfect these traits.

For instance, studies have shown that leaders who are willing to endure hardship are seen as more charismatic by their teams, and people who have a positive outlook are more likely to have charisma. Also, what people choose to say can affect how charismatic they are.

Tip:

A common misconception about charisma is that it is closely linked with physical attractiveness. Although this can help you to be liked in some situations, it's certainly not a requirement for being charismatic.

Ultimately, beauty is only skin deep. Your actions and beliefs can matter far more to thoughtful people than how you look.

It takes time and effort to develop charisma, so pay attention to several areas. Look at developing charisma as a personal journey, and focus on one area at a time.

Let's look at these areas in turn:

Body Language and Presence

Body Language   and "presence" are important aspects of charisma. Without saying a word, the right body language can transmit strength, warmth, and likability.

Start by standing up straight, with your shoulders back and your head up. Good posture not only makes you look confident and in control, but it also makes you feel this way!

Research shows that charismatic people tend to be very positive, so do your best to maintain a positive outlook  .

Presence is a bit different from body language: this has to do with the quality of your attention. When you have presence, you devote all of your attention to the person you're with, and you don't let your mind wander to something else. You give yourself, and your attention, solely to that person.

To develop presence, start by learning Active Listening   skills. When someone is speaking, make sure that you devote your full attention to what the person is saying, and don't worry about what you're going to say next. Do your best to stay in the moment and stay aware. You may be surprised by the impact this has on your relationships!

Helping Others Feel Good

Charismatic people make others feel great. Instead of focusing on their own success, they spend a great deal of time and energy trying to lift others up. By helping the people around them, they create an environment of positive energy that others are naturally drawn to.

You can do this by giving   help and expertise whenever people need it. Be humble about your achievements and give people sincere praise   and gratitude when they do something good.

You can also help others by becoming a mentor  , by coaching   less-experienced team members, and by practicing random acts of kindness like bringing in muffins to the office or making coffee for a busy colleague.

A genuine smile, when appropriate, can also help to make people feel good.

Note:

Sincerity is incredibly important in developing charisma. People will notice if you're just "going through the motions" or are giving out insincere compliments. Make sure that you stay authentic as you work on your skills.

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

There is a strong link between high Emotional Intelligence   and charisma. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are aware of their own emotions, as well as of the emotions of those around them. This awareness allows them to stay cool under pressure and give people what they need emotionally.

Empathy   is an important part of this. When you're able to understand other people's perspectives, wants, and needs, you open the door for greater understanding and connection.

Develop empathy and emotional intelligence by keeping your emotions under control, especially when you're tired or stressed. Also, pay attention to others – by picking up on their body language and what they say, you'll be able to identify what they want and need, and then take the appropriate action.

Self-Confidence and Assertiveness

Charismatic people have confidence, and they know how to be assertive.

Start by Building Self-Confidence  . You can do this by using your strengths more at work, by setting and achieving small goals, and by developing the knowledge and skills that you need to do your job effectively. Also, develop your public speaking skills  , so that you can speak clearly and confidently in front of a group.

Assertiveness   is slightly different. When you're assertive, you communicate your wants and needs, while still respecting the wants and needs of other people. When you're assertive, you show personal power, but you use this power with kindness, respect, and dignity.

Assertiveness and self-confidence go hand-in-hand. Once you've built your self-confidence, you can work on assertiveness by recognizing your wants and needs in every situation and also by recognizing the wants and needs of others. Stand up appropriately for what you need, but do this respectfully.

Key Points

Charisma is a collection of traits and behaviors that help you appeal to other people. Charismatic people are often successful, and people are naturally drawn to them. They retain the best talent in their teams, and people listen to their ideas.

Because charisma is a collection of behaviors, you can learn it. Work on developing empathy, self-confidence, and assertiveness. Be aware of what your body language is saying, and do your best to give people a genuine smile when you're around them.

Also, make sure that you use your charisma the right way: don't use it to influence someone to do something that is against his or her own best interests.

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Comments (3)
  • Rachel wrote Over a month ago
    Hi All,

    Charisma is something that many people believe you're born with. However, this isn't the case - you can become more charismatic!

    Learn how, in this week's Featured Favorite.

    Best wishes,

    Rachel
  • Bree wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Yolande,
    There is indeed nothing more powerful that feeling like someone is listening to you with their full, 100%, attention. And when you feel listened to by that person, you like them ... which helps you see them as more charismatic!

    It does not take much, just your undivided attention. However, the challenge is to be able to focus 100% of your attention on someone without the internal dialogue going on.

    Any thoughts on how we can develop that 100% focus and attention when listening?

    Bree
  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Recently I've been dealing witha person who is very unfocused when dealing with other people. You constantly get the feeling that he doesn't hear what is being said and you want to repeat yourself all the time to make sure that he understands. I would definitely not describe him as charismatic, even though he has a nice personality and is quite extroverted. Because he doesn't focus on other people, it makes him seem a bit egotistical - even though he probably isn't. It made me realize once again how important the following is:
    When someone is speaking, make sure that you devote your full attention to what the person is saying, and don't worry about what you're going to say next. Do your best to stay in the moment and stay aware. You may be surprised by the impact this has on your relationships!

    Yolandé

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