What exactly is Charisma? Most would agree that it is a magical, illusive, personal quality, divinely endowed on some people more than others. One thing is for certain, it is more easily identified than defined. It is the secret to being liked and agreed with by others. It is the much sought-after quality that causes people to envy others because of their congeniality and ease at which they interact with people. Charisma, like many other character traits, may be gifted more to some, but regardless of your given level, charisma, like any other skill, can be further developed.
It is officially defined as “an unusual ability to influence people and arouse devotion” and “a personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others.” Other definitions describe it as “a gift, the ability to charm or influence people” and “appeal, magnetism, presence and leadership ability.” Dr. Tony Alessandra defines charisma as “the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually.” Harvard anthropologist Charles Lindholm defines it as “above all, a relationship, a mutual mingling of the inner selves of leader and follower.”
Charisma certainly has several key components, Dr. Alessandra choosing to summarize them as intellectual, physical and emotional. Intellectual charisma is often characterized by an impressive vocabulary and an ability to draw out the best and most thoughtful ideas from others. A well-read person with an impressive and resonating speaking style is usually associated with being very charismatic. A person who is extremely well educated but not arrogant might too be considered as charismatic. Leadership ability is often associated with charisma.
Physical charisma is often evident simply because of ones commanding presence and impressive physical stature. It may also be embellished by the relative attractiveness of that person, whether male or female. A great handshake, a confident, articulate voice and positive eye contact that conveys “I am interested in learning more about you and respect you immensely” are all means of conveying charisma. Great posture, proximity and even wardrobe all adds to a persons’ charismatic quotient.
Emotional charisma is conveyed by a sense of being a deep thinker or one who is willing to ponder the larger picture. These people have a tendency to bring out the best in the rest of us by causing us to dig deeper emotionally and seek out better answers to the challenges in life. They see more in us than we sometimes see in ourselves. They are both motivating and captivating people.
Charismatic people have a “twinkle” or “sparkle” in their eye. You know what I mean. They have the essence of a positive and energizing manner of thought and immediately are able to transfer that feeling to others. These traits allow the charismatic person to connect easily with others. A charismatic person will illuminate a room by simply walking into it. We have all experienced this feeling as we have personally witnessed the change of mood or emotional intensity in a room simply because of the presence of an individual who has just entered.
A great example of a well known charismatic person is former president Bill Clinton. Whether or not you agree with his politics or antics, most people would agree that he might arguably be one of the most charismatic leaders of our time. Why? Was he always correct? Did he have the total support of the Congress or the American people? Did other world leaders always see things his way? Was he faultless? Of course he was not. He was never any of those things.
What President Clinton has is an uncanny ability to persuade people to his point of view. He has the ability to make a connection with people at all levels by being sincerely interested in them. His influence on others is profound. He has a commanding physical presence, yet maintains a boyish charm. He is extremely intelligent and well-read. He is articulate yet not at all condescending. Many would describe him as handsome. He has possessed and experienced the power of the Presidency of the United States. He also has that “sparkle” in his eye. The man has great charisma!
Can you be charismatic like President Clinton? Certainly you can. You already have some charisma, certain strengths and abilities that others find attractive. Develop these. Look people in the eye. Listen carefully when you are conversing. Take a genuine interest in their point of view. Be quick to forgive minor errors and sincerely issue compliments and polite gratitude where appropriate. You may not be able to do anything about your physical stature, but you can still have a commanding presence by means of your confidence level, your posture, your voice and your eye contact.
Charisma is not merely a gift from God that was bestowed upon some people, but given to all. You have some charisma, just like President Clinton. Determine your strengths and build on those first. Target other areas where you would like to grow and get busy. Making the effort to further develop your charisma is truly gratifying and will surely pay you back in spades.