Have you ever met someone so charismatic that it’s almost impossible not to like them? Or encountered a person who seemed to draw everyone towards them with their magnetic presence? While there are certainly some qualities and character traits that can get you far in life (such as intelligence, integrity, determination, and hardwork), charisma is arguably one of the most important — but also the most difficult to achieve!
Charisma is defined as “a special quality some people possess that allows them to relate to and inspire others one a deep, emotional level” (Riggio, 1998). And to a lot of us, charisma seems to be something elusive, intangible, and innate; like it’s clear within the first few moments of meeting someone whether or not they’re blessed with it or not. Charismatic people are natural born leaders who effortlessly command the attention of everyone in the room. They’re always so confident, charming, inspiring, and easy to be around. And that’s just not something you can fake.
Psychology, however, argues that charisma isn’t as intrinsic or predetermined as we believe it to be. Plenty even posit that it’s not so much a matter of someone’s nature as it is an attribute we can build and cultivate over time, especially with the help of a few well-researched tips and tricks. With that said, here are 6 tried-and-true ways you can be the most magnetic person in the room:
1. Set a playful tone.
We all know that first impressions matter. And though it’s true that these first impressions aren’t always accurate and the way we feel about or perceive a person tends to change over time, first impressions hold a much more meaningful, much more lasting impact than most of us realize. So if you want to be charismatic, you need to set a playful tone to your interactions with the people you meet right from the very start.
Come in with lots of energy and get the ball rolling right away. Don’t make the mistake of letting your nerves or jitters show by keeping your voice quiet and making your gestures small. Make a point to be more noticeable, outgoing, friendly, and warm. And you’ll be surprised how much easier it’ll be to connect with people, make friends, and get them to like you once you do.
2. Tell lots of stories.
Whether it’s at a party or a presentation, it’s always good to have a few interesting stories and funny anecdotes up your sleeve. Making your audience laugh will really captivate their attention, and if you are able to move them with your masterful storytelling, then you’ll have no problem attracting a flock of people around you at every social gathering. Just remember: be confident in your delivery; keep your stories short and focused; tell it in the present tense and use a lot of animated gestures; don’t be afraid to pause for effect; and use a variety of voices to make it more interesting.
3. Think on your feet.
Aside from being confident and charismatic, another quality that really draws people in and makes you seem more fun to be around is if you have a witty, quick-thinking sense of humor. People who know how to think on their feet are easily perceived as being more likeable, clever, and alluring, so stay sharp in every conversation. You don’t even need to be smart or funny to pull this off. All you really need to do is think fast and act quickly every time you see an opening (be it for a tasteful joke or an interesting story) and banter with people to make them feel more engaged in your interactions, too. This will instantly make your conversations seem much more lively and thoughtful than if you just keep reacting and nodding along to everything everyone else says all the time (Bono & Ilies, 2006). Which brings us to our next point!
4. Say what you feel.
Charismatic people tend to be very open and honest about their thoughts and feelings, which is what makes them so easy to trust. So if you’re talking to someone you want to impress or befriend, don’t make the mistake of lying or pretending just to seem more agreeable or impressive to them. Instead, say what you feel and it will make you seem so much more genuine and easy to talk to. But of course, it’s also important to be mindful of the other person’s feelings so honest but polite when you give your opinion on something. And if you feel like you’ve stepped on a sensitive topic (i.e. politics, religious beliefs, etc) then quickly but subtly steer the conversation back to more neutral ground with a dismissive joke or a vague (but still truthful) answer.
5. Smile with your eyes.
In counselling psychology, there is something known as the SOFTEN technique, something counselors and therapists alike use to make people more comfortable in their presence. It’s all about using your body language to your advantage and it stands for: smile, open posture, forward lean, take notes, eye contact, and nod (Cuny, Wilde, & Stevens, 2012). Using any one of these nonverbal cues (or better yet simultaneously all together) will really make people feel more at ease talking to you, especially if you smile with your eyes. Smiling with your eyes not only prompts people to smile at you in return, but it also makes you seem more genuine and empathetic to others.
6. Be a likeable listener.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, being a likeable listener is really key to seeming more likeable, magnetic, and charismatic to those around you. As we all know, people love to talk about themselves, so encourage it. Make someone feel heard and valued by asking them open-ended, “talk about” (like why, what does it mean, what was it like) questions to elicit a more thoughtful response. This works especially well if you can find something the other person cares deeply about, especially if they don’t usually get asked about it, because it makes them excited to answer and talk to you some more (Wasielewski, 1985).
So, what about you? Do you see yourself as someone magnetic and charismatic? Or do you still think you have a long way to go before? If you struggle with being a good conversationalist and a charismatic leader, don’t worry. As long as you remember these nifty tips and tricks and stick to them, it should get easier for you over time. Just remember, how you carry yourself around others goes a long way in how they perceive you, so be mindful of your demeanor. Be bold and engaging, but also mindful of others. Listen well and ask the right questions. That’s how you become the kind of person that others love to be around, and it’ll be much easier for you to make connections and form deep, meaningful relationships with those around you.
- Riggio, R. E. (1998). Charisma. Encyclopedia of mental health, 1, 387-396.
- Bono, J. E., & Ilies, R. (2006). Charisma, positive emotions and mood contagion. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(4), 317-334.
- Cuny, K. M., Wilde, S. M., & Stevens, A. V. (2012). Using empathetic listening to build relationships at the center. Communication centers and oral communication programs in higher education: Advantages, challenges, and new directions, 249-256.
- Wasielewski, P. L. (1985). The emotional basis of charisma. Symbolic Interaction, 8(2), 207-222.