Charisma. We might not be able to define it, but we certainly know it when we see someone walk into a room and attract every gaze. Someone who charms and influences nearly every person in her wake.
Do you have to be stunning? A bubbly extrovert? Have a gig on Comedy Central? No, no, and NO. It’s more about…presence – having a personality that shines via speech and behaviors, as well as (sometimes even more so) what’s in the space of what’s not being said or done.
Okay, enough of the woo-woo stuff. So you wanna up your CQ? (That’s Charisma Quotient for y’all who like things spelled out.)
You do? Well, good, because even though some lucky bastards are born with bucket-loads of natural charisma, there are three specific things (I call these the 3 Cs) the rest of us – even the introverts among us! – can do to enhance the CQ in our own lives. So strap in, amigos, here we go…
C #1 – Courage. Let go of your fear of drawing attention.
Oooo, I know. This might be your biggest hurdle of all, but if you’re serious about building up your savoir-faire, you’re gonna have to clear this obstacle first.
If you’re hyperventilating right now, go stick your head in a bag or get a drink, then come back and read on. It’ll be okay. I promise.
So how can you release your fear of drawing attention? Start by recognizing that other people feel the way you do.
Start small and try this: The next time you’re at a social function, seek out the first person you think needs you. What I mean is, someone who looks like she needs rescuing. Like she’d rather be anywhere else in the world right now, and when you swoop in to say, “OMG, have you tried the cheese curds? They’re to die for! Hi, I’m Misty.” – she’s gonna start thinking you’re the best thing EVER since crotch-less panties. (If—you know—she likes that kinky shit.)
I mean, right? I’ve totally fallen in love with people who made me feel like I wasn’t a friendless loser in social situations. Be that Rescuer.
The second and equally important piece of this step is realizing that being vulnerable to making mistakes doesn’t make people dislike you. On the contrary. I end up making a dork of myself in many situations, but guess what? People really don’t mind! I’ve made many friends because I let myself be vulnerable to failure. And if someone criticizes you when you’re being vulnerable, the hell with’em. They don’t deserve your awesomeness. Those people are in the minority anyway, and most of the time everyone else will wish they had the guts to be so authentic and fearless.
Two people are walking down the street. One is holding her spine straight, shoulders back, head high and she’s making eye contact with those she passes. The other person is looking at the ground, shoulders hunched, and pretty much oblivious to everything and everyone around her.
Who would you rather have a conversation with? Who are you drawn to?
We tend to not even notice people in the second example. They somehow fade into the environment.
The next time you’re in a social environment—say at a restaurant—people watch for a little while. Observe people’s body language and posture. Who’s radiating confidence, and who’s not? There’s definitely a correlation between posture, confidence and self-esteem.
So how can you build confidence when you feel fat, frumpy, stressed, tired, broke…fill in the blank with your adjective of choice…? Tell yourself you’re starting over. Make a few small, inexpensive changes (new hair cut, new accessory that you love, new healthy habit, less negative self-talk, new joke every day, whatever) that will solidify your commitment toward cultivating a more-confident-you. And then practice being confident and fake it ‘til you make it.
I’m not kidding. It’ll feel unnatural and embarrassing, but forge on, rhubarbs (oh yeah, there’s back story on that!). The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Experiment with poses and postures. Practice smiling in the mirror to find which way you should tilt your head in pictures. Wink at people. In group settings, wave people over to join your little party, and if they don’t come over, go get them. Even if they still refuse to go, chances are they’ll be laughing and other people around you will have noticed your playfulness and will want to join the fun.
The more you practice projecting positive (read: charismatic) body language, the more natural it will become, and the more you will draw others to you.
C #3 – Communication. Now stop self-obsessing & focus outward.
Whereas the first two steps require going inward, this step leverages all that internal effort to direct it in a focus on other people.
Tune into their emotions and body language. Be curious about them. Ask questions. Be expressive. Nod your head when someone is talking, give plenty of uh-huhs, raise your eyebrows, hold eye contact, turn your body toward the speaker, smile, laugh! Match your expressions, gestures and tone of voice to theirs. And when you talk, smile!
You don’t have to be an extrovert to captivate others in social environments. Being a writer, I obviously have a healthy dose of introversion that freaks out when my mostly extroverted personality charges Mach 1 into a room full of people. Sometimes I still hear that little voice in the back of my head that says, “Whooooa-ho-ho! Batten down the hatches, lassie, your ass is flappin’ in the wind.” But I press on anyway. Even if my cheeks—and other regions of my body—get a little pink in the process.
Again, fake it ‘til you make it. Eventually you’ll find your own brand of charisma. You won’t believe how much you’ll learn about yourself and others…and how much fun you’ll have in the process.
What tips do you have to help us increase our CQ?