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The Anatomy of Charisma

http://nautil.us/issue/45/power/the-anatomy-of-charisma

nautil.us

The Anatomy of Charisma
For weeks I had been researching what science has to say about the power of charisma. Why do some people so clearly have it and others don't? Why do we fall so easily under its influence? Charismatics can make us feel charmed and great about ourselves. They can inspire us to excel.

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The power of charisma

Charismatics can make us feel charmed and great about ourselves. They can inspire us to excel. They hypnotize us.

But they can also be dangerous. They can use charisma for their own purposes, to enhance their power, to manipulate others.

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Defining charisma

The German sociologist from the early 20th-century Max Weber wrote charisma is a quality that sets an individual “apart from ordinary men,” and causes others to treat him as “endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.”

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Charismatic techniques can be taught

Charismatic Leadership Tactics range from the use of metaphors and storytelling to nonverbal methods of communication like open posture and animated, representative gestures at key moments.

The more charismatic leadership tactics used, the more individuals will be seen as leader-like by others.

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Charisma has two halves

It’s a relationship between the person who possesses it and the people who respond to it. And emotion is the accelerant.

A charismatic speaking to a mirror is not particularly exciting. Put one in front of a crowd, however, and you’re in for a show.

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The awestruck effect

Charismatic leaders put us in awe. 

We reach a level of admiration so high, that we tend to hold back our emotions in order to show our respect for them, to acknowledge their superior status.

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"A charismatic leader releases the individual of the pressures of life under stress. If you join a group in those circumstances, you feel more protected. But that presupposes the vulnerability of the individual. When individuals feel more secure, they have less need for salvation, less need for a charismatic bond. But when they feel vulnerable, then there is a possibility of a charismatic attachment. This can be very dangerous in certain circumstances.”

David Aberbach

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Charisma is a skill

Charisma, defined as that irresistible magnetism some people possess, is often thought of as trait you’re born with (you either have it or you don’t).

But the truth is that charisma is a s...

Charismatic behaviors

There are 3 keys to being charismatic: 

  • you need to be present in the moment when engaging with others.
  • you need to give off warmth by implying goodwill toward others.
  • you need to appear powerful by coming across as someone capable of affecting the world around you.

Being memorable

... by making a graceful exit. Offer the other person something of value before you go:

  • Information: an article, book, or web site you think might be of use to them.
  • A connection: someone they ought to meet, whom you know and can introduce them to.
  • Visibility: an organization you belong to, where you could invite them to speak.
  • Recognition: an award you think they should be nominated for

Learning To Be Charismatic

Charisma is about what you say and do as opposed to who you really are as a person. Your subconscious, social cues, physical expression, and the way you treat others all play a part in developin...

Presence As A Charisma Tool

Presence is necessary for charisma and it’s all about being truly engaged with others and showing them that they have your complete attention. Without presence, you can come across as just wanting to show off.

Shut down your ego, and pay attention to and focus on every word that others say. 

Develop A Sense Of Confidence

People like confident individuals, even if their other qualities are less attractive. Developing confidence is a balancing act as you don't want to be arrogant, but you also don't want to come across as timid or scared.

Exercising regularly, dressing in clothes that make you feel good, and talking about the things you understand well can help you build and maintain confidence.

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Be A Good listener

You can’t remember everything, but at least remember people’s names. Repeating their names during the conversation is a good memory reinforcement. Also, listen with interest, pay attentio...

Tell Great Stories

Keep yourself informed and speak with conviction. Use words like “I am sure” vs. tentative words like “I think, I hope and I feel.” Use humor, even if it is self-deprecating.

Don’t: Confuse humor with bad joke telling. And don’t overdo on the self-deprecation to the point you push yourself out of the conversation that it takes away from who you are.

Use Body Language

Be open, approachable, gracious and graceful. Walk up to someone, smile, make eye contact, shake hands. Introduce yourself by saying your name.

Don’t: Overdo it. When you smile, be authentic. If your smile is not in your eyes, people will know you're faking it.