Hot-Wire Your Charisma, Baby

Think you got it? What’s that you say? 

Maybe?

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.

Huh?

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.

C #2 – Confidence.

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.

He's kinda scary - but he's packing loads of charisma. Look at them EYES! Yum factor!

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?

Comments

  1. Awesome as always. I’m going to remember this the next time I’m tempted to stand in the back and blend in with the wall.

    • Terri, the thing is…almost everyone feels that way at one point or another. I have to remind myself of that too! Thanks for visiting and for the tweet! :)

  2. Great tips! It’s hard to step forward sometime. Finding someone to ‘rescue’ is a great idea!

    • I know, Jerri…Sometimes I wonder how writers’ conventions even work when so many writers lean toward the introverted spectrum. LOL. Nice to see you! :)

  3. larissahoffman says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who would recommend cheese curds. Liked your post! My husband is surprised how extroverted I am online when in real life I’m actually an introvert. For me, it’s easier to have confidence when I’m not face-to-face with a person. I also talk better with a keyboard than with my mouth. Great post!

    • Larissa, I totally relate. Online it’s easy to be witty when you have time to come up with good lines. LOL Hope you can use some of these tips to wow’em in person as much as I know you do online! :)

  4. Awesome post. And Misty you have the greatest blog post titles around. I wait for them with baited breathe. I am also trying to learn from them. Thanks.

    • Oh my gosh, thanks, Sabrina! :) Titles are so important when everyone is busy and you’re vying for their time. If I don’t know someone, I usually only read a blog if the title indicates what it’s about (relevancy) or if that fails, if it’s intriguing enough for me to check into. The best blog titles do both. A tall order, right?! But why even bother to write the damn post if you can’t get people there? :) Thanks so much for stoppin’ in!

  5. Great job, Misty! There are times when I’d rather walk over hot coals than approach a total stranger at some social event. But I took notes and I’ll try to do better next time.

    • Angelyn, don’t go thinking you’re not perfect just the way you are! :) There is no right way or wrong way to “do” charisma. Everyone has it in varying degrees, it’s just that in most of us, we need a little more coaxing to let it shine. I hope my tips can help people regain a little bit of that natural shine that may have rubbed off in adolescence. :) As always, it’s lovely to see you here at CS! Hugs!

  6. This truly is a fantastic post Misty – as usual with only a style you can project. I’ve identified myself as an HSP (highly sensitive person) which is about 25% of the population and from within that 25% you still have introverts and extroverts. I’m an extrovert. I would encourage those who feel trapped between introvert/extrovert personalities to look at the list which identifies if someone is an HSP. It helps to understand who we are as people and to overcome some of the challenges you’ve listed here. Most HSP’s are artists so it certainly makes sense. I can relate to all three issues you mentioned (the three C’s) although it may not define my challenges, I certainly feel the challenges of other people with a strong empathy and trying to make them more comfortable…hence Highly Sensitive to what they are going through. On the list of HSP’s is also sensitivity to loud noises or loud surroundings. I can only take so much before I have to step away.

    Once again, thank you for another fascinating post. I “feel” your genuine caring to get this assurance out there. hehehe.

    • HSP, huh? That’s very interesting and something I’ll check into for sure. I love those personality type tests. Have you heard of the book called “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer? It’s fantastic. This book aims to help you understand others by understanding yourself. Littauer’s 4 personality classifications are: Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholy, Powerful Choleric, and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Fascinating stuff!

      You are such an inspiration, Karen. I can totally see you as a “sensitive” person. The world is a better place because of people like you! :)

  7. Great post, Misty, but I’m such an introvert, I’d hide in the back and try not to have a panic attack.

    • Everyone has charisma, Jerri, even introverts. It’s just a matter of letting it shine through – in pockets or in a huge tidal wave. I believe even strong introverts can increase their comfort level in social situations. I’m not saying being the center of attention – people are who they are – but rather, going after and claiming a new modicum of equanimity when in social environments. Did that even make sense? LOL

  8. ajense1963 says:

    Terrific tips,Misty. Great post. Re the fake it til you make it. Someone once told me when you want to project a confident manner, run the theme song to Saturday Night Fever(stay’n alive) in your head because you just can’t hear it and not sort of strut,(if not physically at least mentally.) Perhaps i am telling my age, but I’ve found it does work.
    Dory

    • Ah, man, that’s awesome! “ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ aliiiiiive” – I won’t forget that one for sure! And not only will that help us mentally strut, but smile while we’re at it! Thanks for the great tip, and for stopping by, Dory! :D

  9. What an amazing, helpful post, Misty (may I say, as usual?). As the lifetime shy girl I tend to get all caught up in how it feels for me…I can tell my daughters what to do but find it hard to find the way myself…thanks for showing it!

    • Yes, how it feels for ourselves! Right! Isn’t that what holds us back from so much in life? Isn’t that what makes us *miss* so much around us?

      I had a friend in college who was very beautiful, but everywhere we went people always thought she was a “stuck-up bitch.” Which was sooo not the case, she was just painfully shy. So shy she had a hard time smiling, even when people were trying to engage her – hence people’s quick judgment. The sad thing was, it became a self-fulfilling prophesy because the more people judged her, the more uncomfortable she became, and so the more inward she turned. She was smart, but somehow she just couldn’t overcome her self-consciousness and let herself relax around people. I haven’t seen her in years, but the last time I did, she had married and had a couple of children…and she still didn’t smile. I felt so sad for her.

      Anyway, Huntley, your charisma shines through more than you think! Thanks for sharing! :)

  10. Josie Matthews says:

    Misty, I couldn’t wait to get home from vaca to see your newest post! What a great one! I think that Charisma is about being real, being yourself, and really enjoying people. My family makes fun of me because wherever I go I end up talking to strangers and finding out things about them. Everybody has a story and I love hearing them. (alot of good book fodder!) Being interested in people is a great way to have charisma. It makes people feel important and makes you seem approachable and someone people want to be around! Nothing is more annoying than being around people who just want to talk about themselves and arent interested in anyone else but themselves.
    Charisma is that happy medium; a delicate balance of being not too shy, and not too attention seeking. Be friendly and intersted in people and knowthat everyone wants to be accepted and feel special once in a while. And smile, smile, smile! Body language is so important. Great advice Misty!!!!!!!
    Love J

    • Jos, I can totally see you chatting up people wherever you go! :) I love that about you. I think you summed it up well when you say it’s about being approachable and someone people want to be around – someone interested in other people!

      Now, I can’t wait to hear stories of your vacation spent people watching! :)

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