Ever since I was little I’ve been fascinated by the idea of charm. Before I was old enough, there were all these heroines who possessed that power to turn heads, part crowds, or melt a grown man’s heart. (What book lover hasn’t imagined what Anna Karenina looks like, or how bright indeed were Lizzy Bennet’s eyes? Neither of whose looks are really described by the authors, by the way). It seemed like a pretty big deal to be able to do these things in life–and I wasn’t cute at all. Like, “no-one-except-my-mom-ever-told-me-I’m-pretty” type of deal here. (Grrr…Dad!)
But since then I’ve learned that charm is more than just the ability to swan through a ballroom (or in 2015, a crowded club) or to get marriage proposals from lovesick aristocrats. It’s not just about looks either, but more about making yourself available to another person, and being more receptive. This might be counter-intuitive because being charismatic and magnetic seems to be about being proud, gorgeous, and asserting your presence on others. But you may have come across people who possess great looks and personalities, but only seem interested in themselves or other people more worth their time. These people are not very memorable or ultimately attractive–or indeed very rare. They’re dime a dozen!
What’s much more rare is someone who has a solid foundation in and of herself, and yet feels equally giving and sharing. Charisma is less about making an entrance than about making a connection. In my life, I’ve met quite a few extremely charismatic people, and here are things each of them had in common: They’re all uncommonly and avidly interested in other people, and not just for their gains or ulterior motives. They are genuinely curious about others and usually talk about altruism as one of their modes of life. (Does this sound like you? Then just skip to comments and share your charismatic tips! :D)
Finally, charisma is not just a skill to acquire, but an encompassing attitude that serves all across the board in life: in your love life of course, but also with friendship, career, and family. Here’s how to become more charismatic and charming–and become even more likable than you already are!
1. Remember people’s names: The first thing about making a connection is that you have to acknowledge the other person. It sounds so stupid-simple, except it’s almost hardest thing to put into practice. We meet a lot of people in life; and if you’re at a party with tons of people you’ve never met, chances are, you’re likely to mix up names aplenty. But the spirit of it is to acknowledge the other person and share your time with that person, however long that may be. Basically, if you want to become more charismatic, don’t just stand there looking vaguely bored and not introducing yourself because you’re too tired or shy to say your name or learn someone else’s.
2. Make eye contact: The eyes are the windows to the soul–a cliche? Perhaps, but it seems to hold a lot of truth. Eye contact is deemed so important that, held continuously for 4 minutes straight with a stranger, it is said to end with you falling in love with one another. When you look into another person’s eyes, you see their whole person, their joys, pains, strengths, and vulnerabilities. It makes you more empathetic toward one another.
3. Make small talk: Isn’t this the same thing as #1, remember people’s names? No, it isn’t. There are people who carry whole rolodexes in their heads (and iPhones), and of course, remember your face and name and all the “salient” information, but have no inclination to make small talk. It’s always about getting what they want from you, or “connecting you with someone” so they can get a favor out of you later. If you want to be likable, avoid being this person.
Contrary to popular myth, small talk is neither idle nor dreary (or it doesn’t have to be). Find something in common and be open-minded. It doesn’t hurt to be a little open for a few minutes–try it and you might be surprised by what other people have to share. And if it really is not going anywhere, be as crisp, warm, and polite as possible with your exit (“It was such a pleasure talking to you. I wish you the best of luck with so-and-so!”) before resorting to looking at your phone or rudely gazing out.
4. Be interesting: In order to be truly charismatic, you can’t always just be having eye contact and asking questions and making small talk. At some point, it’s about how interesting you are in and of yourself, too. Being interesting is all about self-knowledge: knowing your likes and dislikes, having a few true passions. You don’t have to speak 5 languages and have traveled 20 countries to be an interesting person (though that will be helpful!). More important is having some real convictions about how you live your life and why.
5. Be confident: You don’t always have to have a blazing self-confidence of a swimsuit model or a tech mogul. Just be comfortable in your own skin. Being totally at ease with yourself is such an attractive quality.
Have you met charismatic people in your life? And what makes someone like that so appealing?
Photo: cristian via Flickr