We all know charisma when we see it. The energy. The magnetism. The star quality.
It seems so natural that our intuition might tell us that charismatic people are simply born that way, but psychologists tell us that this is absolutely not the case.
Charisma is primarily a learned characteristic.
John F. Kennedy was not always charismatic. As a boy, he was somewhat sickly, bookish and a bit shy. Oprah spent most of her youth surviving, not inspiring. And FDR, while socially charming, was considered to be kind of a lightweight years before he developed the charisma that helped lead his country through some of its biggest challenges.
These people were not born charismatic. They developed their charisma over time, first overcoming personal adversity to strengthen their resolve, then by learning and applying some common behavior we can all develop.
- Studies show that people who are considered charismatic often listen more, and with greater focus and intensity, than others. People who have met Bill Clinton, for example, often say he made them feel like the only person in the room.
- Charismatic people often laugh more, and smile more, than most people. Research tells us that laughing and smiling are absolutely contagious and lift the spirits of the people involved.
- Charismatic people are extremely passionate about their interests and beliefs. And they often focus great energy on a few ideas knowing that passion, when focused, can be nearly irresistible.
As salespeople, we are in the people business and to the extent we can develop our own charismatic skills, they can provide us a distinct advantage.
So, remember this somewhat counterintuitive thought:
The key to being considered charismatic, according to psychologists, is to make other people feel charismatic about themselves.
When people encounter someone they describe as charismatic, inevitably they say that they left the encounter feeling uplifted, smarter, bigger, inspired or more passionate … about themselves …than they did before.