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What Is Charisma?

Charisma is the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you. While it is often described as a mysterious quality that one either has or doesn't have, some experts argue that the skills of charismatic people can be learned and cultivated.

A variety of factors can make a person charismatic. They include but are not limited to: confidence, exuberance, optimism, expressive body language, and a passionate voice. People with magnetic personalities are often good listeners and maintain eye contact in face-to-face interactions. They are enthusiastic and speak with assertiveness.

How Is Charisma Used?

Charisma brings to mind powerful business leaders, rock stars on stage, politicians at the podium. Yet charisma’s most fundamental power may lie in the effect it has on everyone else.

Charisma can help rouse followers and employees to band together in pursuit of goals. It can infuse group efforts with a sense of meaning and purpose, reminding everyone of the values they share.

Those who possess emotional intelligence and exhibit an interest in others are often said to be charismatic. Charisma can also have a dark side, in so far as narcissistic individuals and predators use their powers to manipulate others.

How to Develop Charisma

Is charisma innate or learned? Research suggests that it's a bit of both. Some people are undoubtedly gifted with natural charisma and have charmed those around them from a young age. For most others, the ability to draw in others doesn’t come naturally.

Recent evidence, however, suggests that there are ways for those who struggle with charisma to improve their skills. One critical component that’s been identified as relatively easy to modify is presence—that is, devoting one’s full attention to the person being spoken to and engaging enthusiastically with their ideas.

Additional research has suggested that nonverbal signals like animating one's facial expressions may help increase perceptions of charisma. Other key factors include strong public speaking skills—which can be learned—and self-confidence. The latter, though not always easy to fake, can be improved over time through mindfulness, positive self-talk, and healthy habits.

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