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Charisma is an individual’s ability to attract and influence other people. 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.

The Art and Science of Charisma

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. The ability to move others is an asset for leading people toward shared objectives. Charisma can also have a dark side, insofar as narcissistic individuals and predators use their powers to manipulate others.

What is charisma?

Charisma is a personal quality, evident in the way an individual communicates to others, that makes someone more influential. This power to attract attention and influence people can be embodied in the way someone speaks, what someone says, and how someone looks when communicating. 

What is a charismatic person like?

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 charisma are often enthusiastic and speak with assertiveness.

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How to Develop Charisma

Like many characteristics, charisma is not something you simply have or don’t have. There are different ways of defining what counts as charisma, and some people possess certain—or sometimes, many—charismatic qualities in above-average proportions, from a talent for emotional storytelling to beaming confidence.

While charisma is sometimes described as a “gift,” some experts have sought to break it down into specific characteristics and argue that it can be learned. Many people, not just celebrities and presidents, use their charisma to stand out from the crowd.

How can I be more charismatic?

A variety of specific characteristics and techniques have been described by charisma researchers as communicatory elements that could increase charisma. They include tactics such as using metaphors and lists in talking about issues, telling stories that capture attention, and expressing shared emotions and moral conviction, as well as using gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbals to express emotions and make an impression.

Are people born charismatic?

Charisma may come more naturally to some people—certain personality traits, like extroversion, could help. But even highly charismatic people may have learned from role models along the way, and some experts believe that charismatic behaviors can be trained.

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