4. How Come I Have Charisma Sometimes, and Sometimes I don’t?

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The Charisma Chronicles: episode #4 of 10

Like fate, charisma can be fickle. Or at least it can seem to be.

Ever notice how someone can have so much charisma in one setting and then have none in another? Changing towns, schools or jobs can be an opportunity to reinvent yourself or for the formerly popular, it can be a rude awakening.

What is going on?

There are two scenarios where someone will be perceived as having charisma.

Scenario #1: Circumstantial Charisma

You lucky dog. Guess what? The room, company or relationship you are in just happens to totally love the way you are. The stars have aligned and you are giving that person exactly what they need from an emotional standpoint. Here’s the rub. You are a just being you and the the pieces just happen to fit. In other words, if someone needed something different, you wouldn’t be able to recognize it or perhaps you would, but you would just go on doing you.

People with Circumstantial Charisma are only charismatic when the situation they are in fits them perfectly.

Scenario #2: Bona Fide Charisma

How do you pronounce that, anyway? Bona figh? Bona fee-day? I can never remember. But, I digress. You are a shapeshifter. Not only can you sense what others need, you can adapt to provide people exactly what they need from an emotional perspective. You are still you, but you can shift gears, unlike the person with only Circumstantial Charisma. If you think about it, on a smaller scale, we do this all the time. Or we should. You don’t talk to a child, a stranger, a family member and a boss in exactly the same way. In the same way may be adjustments for a person’s language abilities and our social relationships with them, a person with Bona Fide Charisma makes adjustments to give whoever they are with the emotion that they need.

I know you probably have questions. Allow to address the two most common ones.

Q1: “Emotion that they need? What does that even mean?”

Think about someone you need who is going through a rough patch. Depending on that exact moment you are with them, they could need a few different things emotionally. Support. Kindness,. Inspiration. Acceptance. Levity.

Now imagine you bring to them, through the way you are and the way you interact with them, exactly what they need. Not what you are good at delivering and not what you think they should have, but what they need. That is charisma.

Each person, each situation, each moment may require one of a myriad of things. It’s not about asking a person what they need either. It is you sensing and knowing, perhaps before they do, what it is they need and then delivering it. It’s like the Henry Ford quote below and Steve Job adopted a similar approach for his customers.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

—Henry Ford

Q2: “Are you proposing we just give people whatever they want and forget about ourselves? That sounds pathetic, not charismatic!”

What you are saying makes a lot of sense. The difference here is we are talking about moving someplace together and you are leading. So it is not about taking orders or being the perfect servant and figuring out what they want before they know what it is. It’s about the best place for the both of you to go together and this means who you are and what you bring goes into the mix and ends up creating the final destination.

Here is the key.

When you are deeply connected to someone and are open to your own authentic self, you don’t have to think about what to do. You will just know what to do and what you do will be charismatic.

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If you are curious about the principles that underlie the elusive trait known as charisma, I have just released my first book, Unlock Your Charisma.

Available on Kindle and Apple Books, get the insights you need to become your most charismatic self.

2. Good Looks and Charisma

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The Charisma Chronicles: episode #2 of 10

Do you have to be good-looking to have charisma?

If you stop and think about it, people with charisma tend to be good-looking. But maybe there is a chicken and egg thing going on — are they charismatic because they are good-looking or good-looking because they are charismatic?

We learned in episode #1 that charisma is about emotions and not looks. Here’s the thing, as humans, we use heuristics or short-cuts all the time to make judgments. And one of the short-cuts we make is based on how things look.

Imagine you have come into some money and are looking to buy a million dollar house. Today you are meeting your realtor for the first time and they arrive in a Toyota Corolla with one or more hubcaps missing. Confession time, I used to drive a Toyota Corolla and from time to time a hubcap would fall off. Not sure why, but to this day if you see a Toyota Corolla on the road a lot of times a hubcap is missing. But, I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, the realtor rolls up in the Toyota Corolla. Be honest, before you even exchange hello’s, how has your impression of the realtor been affected?

Now let’s rewind and imagine the same exact situation except this time the realtor arrive in a impeccable, almost impossible shiny metallic blue Maserati? Be honest, how do you like them now?

Here’s the thing. You are a savvy house buyer so you will know in the next few weeks whether the realtor is a good realtor or not. However, you are more likely to favor them if they arrive in a nicer car. The same goes for tasting bottles of wine. Even sommeliers can be affected in experiments where they play around with the labels.

Being good looking gives you what I like to call “simulated charisma.” Our brains work in a way that we give good-looking people bonus points in the game of charisma. However, good looks will only take you so far.

Good looks cannot actually create charisma — hence the term, simulated charisma.

The takeaway is that how you present yourself can make it harder or easier for your charisma to reveal itself. I’m not saying obsess over your looks, but you need to be aware of the limited extent to which it matters.

Don’t make things harder for yourself. In the same way you wouldn’t show up to an interview with a stain on your tie, don’t present yourself in a way that you know will makes it harder for the person to be for you.

Final pointer is associations matter, too. The school you went to, the family you come from, the circles you move around in all have a simulated charisma effect.

Back to our realtor in the Toyota Corolla. Suppose they arrive with Richard Branson in the passenger seat. How do you like me now?

If you are curious about the principles that underlie the elusive trait known as charisma, I have just released my first book, Unlock Your Charisma.

Available on Kindle and Apple Books, get the insights you need to become your most charismatic self.

1. Why is Charisma so Elusive and How to Get More

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The Charisma Chronicles: episode #1 of 10

What's the one thing we could all use more of? 

I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it, too — “more cowbell!” Okay, that’s definitely #1. 

So let me ask again, what is the #2 thing we could all use more of?

Coming in at a close second would be more charisma. Like Will Ferrell's sweet moves, it’s easy to imitate, but not so easy to produce the same intangible genius of the original.

Which leads me to ask, why is charisma so elusive? Ask 10 people what charisma is and all of them will tell you about behaviors or traits of charismatic people or how it makes them feel. No one can seem to put their finger on the actual mechanism that makes a person charismatic.

One reason why charisma is so elusive is it lives in the energy created between two people. The person with the charisma and the person being affected by it. Also, charisma is less a group of behaviors and more a state of being. You don’t “do” charisma, you “are” charismatic, or you are not. Finally, charisma is all about emotions and being able to connect with someone and impact their emotions in a meaningful way. 

The most important thing is if you can’t say what something is, you can’t get more of it. As I was talking to a coworker around this difficulty of defining charisma, I stumbled into articulating the first definition I’ve seen that actually explains how charisma works, not just what it does.

Charisma is the ability to sense, and ultimately deliver, exactly what is most needed from an emotional perspective in a given moment.

Imagine you are a party and it is boring. Sensing and saying, “this party is dead,” will not make you charismatic, just observant. However, the person who can bring what is needed to make the party exciting and wonderful will be perceived as charismatic.

Now change scenes to a hospital where a family is waiting to find out the results of a loved one’s operation. Bringing da party is not charismatic. What is? Imagine the uncle or aunt who has the ability to empathize, give compassion and comfort — this person will be perceived as charismatic.

Through these examples you can start to see why charisma is so elusive and hard to define. It is ever changing based on the needs of others and it not just a single skill that a person has. The truly charismatic among us carry this state of being with them in whatever context they find themselves in. It’s not an act or a skill, it’s more a state of being.

The good news is once you unwrap what charisma actually is, you can start to get more of it.

If you are curious about all 8 principles that underlie the elusive trait known as charisma, I have just released my first book, Unlock Your Charisma.

Available on Kindle and Apple Books, get the insights you need to become your most charismatic self.

If you are ready, in the immortal words of Bruce Dickinson, “roll it!”

“...ding ding ding ding...”