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What Is Your Charisma Quotient?

How much charisma do others think you have? What are the elements of charisma?

Many people believe that charisma is some special gift bestowed on a very few lucky people. However, after more than a third of a century researching charisma, we better understand what makes a person charismatic, and it is something that can be measured, learned, and developed. Here are the basic elements of what we call “personal charisma” and how a “Charisma Quotient” can be measured.

First, we all possess some charisma potential, some have more, some less. Personal charisma is composed of a constellation of basic emotional and social skills. The emotional skills are related to emotional intelligence; the social skills to social intelligence. The emotional skills include ability to express emotions, controlling emotional expressions, emotional acting, and ability to read others’ emotions and nonverbal cues. Social skills include verbal speaking skill, ability to engage others in social interaction, social role-playing, and impression management, among others.

Here are the basic elements of personal charisma, the more you possess, the higher your Charisma Quotient:

Emotional Expressiveness. This is ability to express emotions to others, and is related to spontaneous expressiveness and being animated and energetic.

Have other people told you that you have expressive eyes?

Do you often touch people during conversations?

Would others consider you the “life of the party”?

Do you have a hard time keeping a “poker face” (unable to hide your strong feelings)?

Are you considered to be a “high energy” person?

Emotional Sensitivity is ability to read nonverbal cues, particularly the emotions of others. It is related to being empathic and to making deep emotional connections with others.

Can you read others’ emotions even when they try to hide them from you?

Do you often vicariously experience others’ emotions (does their sadness make you sad)?

Do friends always seek you out as someone who is sympathetic and caring about their problems?

Would others consider you empathic?

Can you calm others down when they are upset or overly excited?

Emotional Control is emotional acting ability (ability to control expression of your emotions, and use a different emotional expression as a mask). It is related to being able to look calm and collected, even in a crisis situation.

Can you easily hide your felt emotions from others if you want to?

Can you enact emotions “on cue”?

Are you able to be calm when others around you might be losing it?

Do you feel that others may not really know what is going on inside of you?

Do people look to you in a crisis?

Social Expressiveness. This is ability to engage others in social interaction, to get along socially, and to begin and maintain relationships with others.

Are you very comfortable around unfamiliar people?

Can you easily carry on a conversation on a variety of topics?

Do you mostly take the initiative to introduce yourself to strangers?

Are you a good public speaker?

Would others consider you outgoing and gregarious?

Social Sensitivity. Includes listening ability, knowledge of social “rules,” ability to analyze social situations, and awareness of how your behavior is affecting others.

Are you a very good listener?

Are you very careful in social situations that you don’t embarrass yourself?

Do you know a lot about social etiquette?

Are you very careful and thoughtful about what you say?

Are you a people watcher?

Social Control is sophisticated social role-playing skill. It is related to being at ease and being effective in social situations.

Would others consider you poised and confident?

Do you rarely feel awkward or get flustered in social situations?

Can you get along with all types of people?

Are you at ease conversing with strangers?

Are you often chosen as spokesperson or leader for a group?

To calculate your Charisma Quotient, give yourself 5 points for each “yes” answer. A score of 100 or higher indicates high charisma potential. Of course, being charismatic is also related to others’ perception of you. [And realize that this is not a true “test,” just an indicator. If you want to find out more about social skills and personal charisma and the validated Social Skills Inventory, it is on the Mind Garden website (


Riggio, R.E. (1987). The charisma quotient. What it is, how to get it, how to use it. NY: Dodd-Mead.

Riggio, R.E. (in press). Charisma. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health (2nd ed.). NY: Elsevier.

Riggio, R. E. & Carney, D.C. (2003). Manual for the Social Skills Inventory (2nd ed.). Redwood City: Mind Garden.

Follow me on Twitter:!/ronriggio

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