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5 Ways to Grow Your Charisma

Exude confidence, yes, but never forget how much other people matter.


We all know what “charisma” looks and feels like when someone who possesses this quality is in the room. Our senses are able to detect the signals and the energy radiated by a charismatic individual, and this person seems to naturally draw our attention and interest. The word charisma traces its origin to Greek and means “gift” or “grace.” When we are around individuals with this quality, we feel inspired, trusting, and supportive of their missions.

Scientists agree that charisma is marked by both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. It is transmitted in the way people carry themselves, their facial expressiveness and eye contact, their gestures, and their highly charged state of being in a space. It is transmitted by their vocal intonations, their word choice, their inflections, and their messages. They can charm most everyone around them, whether a single person, a group, or an audience of thousands. Not only do charismatic leaders believe in the value of their own ideas, they believe in the value of others’ presence in helping them actualize their personal visions.

Is charisma something you have to be born with or is it something you can cultivate? Research suggests that anyone can develop their ability to project charisma, if they are willing to do the personal work required:

  1. You must be confident in yourself, what you have to offer, and what you want to accomplish. Believing in the value of your own dreams and visions is the first step toward reaching them. When you have charisma, you believe in yourself—and it almost feels like you take up more space in a room than those who lack it.
  2. You must recognize not only that gaining the support of others is important, you must also communicate that you genuinely value those whose support you desire. Even the most charismatic individuals will be left standing alone if they ignore the importance of drawing in supporters. Charisma exists in the “between” space, it cannot stand on its own.
  3. You must be able to communicate to your audience/followers just how much they mean to you and how much you value the support they offer. This cannot be overemphasized—charismatic leaders emit an energy that draws us in, because they make us feel valued. When a charismatic musician catches your eye while he’s playing, you feel that you are intimately connected to that person at that moment. You are made to feel worthy of the gift of the music. Your voice needs to communicate enthusiasm, passion, vision, and authenticity. Your eyes need to communicate trustworthiness, intensity, and warmth. Your smile should be inviting and genuine—fake masks of “happy” cannot be worn for long without cracking. When you speak, it must be with commitment, optimism, and openness. You must fully believe in your words and they must be driven by your heart and your belief in the rightness of your ideas.
  4. You must keep your own fire burning and your own enthusiasm high to maintain the passion of others. When a leader cools on an idea, it is quickly felt by supporters. Charisma is the sum of who you are, what you believe about yourself, how you reveal your passion to others, and the ties that you build to each individual you want to have on board. When your fire wanes, the tide can turn quickly.
  5. Remember that charisma can be learned, practiced, and honed. However, like any skill with which you were not born, it can take a great deal of practice before it feels natural or easy. If you have a dream, a hope, or a vision, and you want to attract the support of others, it can be well worth the time to build the foundation for a charismatic presentation of your ideas. Leadership is an art and science, and your charisma quotient can increase as you apply yourself to practicing the art of charismatic communications.
More from Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
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More from Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
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