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.

1.0 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 actually stumbled across 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 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.

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

“...ding ding ding ding...”

Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse

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A lot of relationships die this way, but they don’t have to.

Have you ever been going about your day, snug as a bug in a rug and all of a sudden someone totally sideswipes you?

They say or do something and it hits you like a door in the face!

After you recover from the initial shock, what is your next impulse?

To make like the Empire and strike back?

Or maybe you’re more like a Klingon and like your revenge served cold so you file it away for later?

Or do you turn inward and rack your brain over what you could have done to warrant this treatment?

I hate to tell you, but in all 3 instances you are most likely making a big mistake.

What mistake is that, Joe?

In most cases, what happened has little to nothing to do with you. You’ve been duped by one of the 4 Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse. And by duped I mean the behavior has less to do with you and more to do with the other person being controlled by one of the 4 Horsemen. Or rather, not being in control of themselves.

The 4 Horsemen can be remembered by a handy acronym HALT:

  • Hungry

  • Angry

  • Lonely

  • Tired

When a person is in one of these states they lack the self-control they normally have and become the worst version of themselves. The people around them didn’t do anything to deserve their wrath, they just happened to be in the vicinity when the person exploded like a grenade.

One other important thing to note about the 4 Horsemen is they are all temporary states of being.

Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness all come and go.

Now you may be thinking, surely you are not proposing that nothing ever has to do with us or is our fault, Joe?

That’s right, sometimes we do things to get people upset. I’m not denying that or that we have responsibility for our actions. What I’m saying is when you are minding your own business and somebody inexplicably tries to take you out, more often than not it has more to do with their mental and emotional state than their relationship with you.

The mistake we tend to make, and I make it a lot being a first-born son, is that we tend to think the world revolves around us, including other people’s worlds.

In reality, that person is mostly thinking about themselves, just like you are mostly thinking about yourself. That’s normal.

When someone behaves badly towards you out of the blue, don’t react. Hit the Pause button before you respond.

Allow yourself to realize that this may have nothing to do with you. Give the moment some time to pass. See if the person’s state of being shifts back to a more normal one.

Usually, one of two things happens:

  1. The person feels embarrassed and apologizes.

  2. The person goes back to feeling fine and treating you fine and doesn’t even realize what they did earlier.

Now there is one explanation for this behavior that actually does signal the death of your relationship with this person.

It’s not a temporary state like the 4 Horsemen, but is more of a toxic attitude that once established, is hard to reverse.

The one thing that signals the death of your relationship with a person is Contempt.

The reason for this is when a person has contempt for you, they have decided that the connection is no longer worth keeping. You are not worthy of them. Once that happens, it is only a matter of time before the ties that bind you get weaker and weaker until they give out.

So the next time someone takes a swipe at you, don't assume it is about you. Consider the 4 Horsemen and pause before you respond. If it is about you and you feel contempt from the other person, know that without a lot of repair that relationship is unlikely to survive.

If you do this, let me know how it goes in the comments below.