Charisma is translated as “divine gift of grace.” However, charisma is not just an innate trait, but something that can be learned and developed.
Having studied charisma for over 45 years, we know the elements that can make a person more charismatic. Some of it has to do with “style” and some of the charisma has to do with “essence” (knowing how to be).
Emotional expression. If there is an innate element of charisma, then this is it (although it can be developed). You can often spot a charismatic person when he walks through the door – it seems that he lights up the room. Our early research showed that charismatic people are highly emotionally expressive. They were very good at conveying emotions through body language – tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures. They smiled easily and radiated “passion” for life. They willingly attracted others. But they also had a sense of control over their behavior. They smiled, laughed, and sometimes cried, but they never “overdid it.” Their behavior matched the emotional tone of the situation and the other people in the room.
In many ways, this is what psychologists call “emotional intelligence,” that is, the ability to communicate emotions easily and accurately, but also in a controlled way. Of course, emotional intelligence and charisma also involve reading and understanding the emotions of others, which brings us to the second element of charisma.
Empathic care. Empathic caring is the ability to read the emotions, feelings, and attitudes of others, and the ability to show empathy. Charismatic people are good at “connecting” with others. People who have dated famous charismatic personalities – Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Kennedy – noted that they made you feel “like you’re the only person in the room.” Charismatic people try to understand others, their feelings and concerns.
Mastery. It roughly translates to “knowing how to be.” Charismatic people are able to fit into almost any social group or social situation. They are good at “working in the room”, engaging others in social interaction and thinking as they go. They appear cool and collected. Remember agent 007, James Bond, who is in control of any situation. intelligence, know-how has more to do with “social intelligence”. [Read more about savoir-faire here].
Word elements. More recently, scholars have focused on charismatic leaders and their charismatic appeal. Much of this research focuses on verbal elements. Charismatic leaders speak in picturesque language, use metaphor well, use vivid storytelling to convey imagery and meaning, and use carefully chosen words and phrases to motivate others. On a more personal level of charisma, charismatic people are good conversationalists.
Although there are other elements of charisma, these are the main ones.
How to become more charismatic
Unfortunately, increasing your “charisma quotient” is not easy. Like all good things, it takes hard work and dedication, but our research shows that people can become more charismatic.
“Observe” your own behaviour. Be more mindful of your verbal and non-verbal behavior. “Analysis” how you behave in different conditions and with different people. Work on becoming more expressive. How do you do this?
“Active listening” is crucial for developing empathy and communication with others. [Here is a quick guide].
“Get feedback” by asking trusted individuals to provide it, and/or by filming the video yourself. You can even work on emotional expressiveness with the help of a mirror.
“Exercise” Put yourself in social situations. Take a public speaking course or join the Toastmasters or another group. You can take improv, acting, or stand-up comedy classes. This will help both of you better understand how you encounter others as well as how to express yourself.
Here is a link to a book that explains charisma in detail and offers exercises to develop charisma.