We all know someone who seems to constantly be in a state of flow. Every interaction with them is positive and we leave feeling better than before the interaction. These people just have a way of stirring up positive emotions in others. They don’t just know how to be charismatic, they are charismatic people.
Some people think charisma is something you are born with or aren’t. In other words:
If you got it you got it, if you don’t you don’t
While I believe that some do naturally have more charisma than others, none of us is incapable of developing more. Knowing some of the traits that make a person charismatic is where to start. Developing those traits is how change occurs.
So what are those traits and how do I become more charismatic?
Personally, I think charisma in a broad sense is much too complicated to boil down to a list of specific traits. At least in the sense of a simple statement like “build this trait or that trait and you’ll automatically become charismatic”. There are however, certain traits that all people who are considered charismatic tend to share.
They have others, but it seems that some carry a bit more weight. These are the ones which I believe are the most necessary to develop for someone who wants to be considered charismatic and increase their attractiveness.
These apply whether you want to be more attractive to women, more attractive to men, or just generally more charismatic and attractive.
This article talks about my top seven. And since traits are closely related to character, which is formed by our habits, it is only natural for this post to be titled The 7 Habits of Highly Charismatic People.
The granddaddy of them all. If you’ve ever read any information regarding self-improvement and standing out from the crowd, this is nothing new to you. You might even be wondering why I’m even including it on this list because it’s so obvious.
Well, my friend, this is something that you can’t be told too much. You absolutely must build confidence if you want to come across as charismatic and attract other human beings. Whether it’s the same sex, opposite sex, adults, or children, ALL people respond positively to confidence. Hell, I’d being willing to bet animals do too.
It makes all the sense in the world. I mean, what is attractive about someone that doesn’t believe in his or her self and doesn’t stand for anything? Nothing is attractive about that.
One of the main characteristics of charismatic people is that other people seem to be naturally drawn to them. Self confidence is one of the biggest reasons for that. Confident people believe they are worthy of whatever they desire. As a result, others sense this and the confident person usually gets what they want.
So how does one build self confidence?
Well, this is the annoying part because some people are just naturally more confident. Because of this, they have always behaved in confident ways and continued to build up more and more confidence. It works like compound interest, so those who are rich in confidence essentially just keep getting better.
Chances are, you’re probably somewhere on the confidence spectrum between complete coward and Tyler Durden from Fight Club. However, even if you do fall into the category of complete coward, you can still become a confident person. It will be harder and take longer, but you have to want it. You have to try. And you have to be persistent.
Having self confidence, just like most (if not all) other habits, is not a spectator sport. You have to engage and act.
After all, courage builds self confidence. You have to practice behaving with self confidence in order to develop it and consistently practice it for it to become a habit.
If you want to develop a habit of eating healthy, you have to eat healthy and you have to do it A LOT. If you want to develop a habit of exercising, you have to exercise and you have to exercise FREQUENTLY. Confidence is no exception.
So, what exactly does a person do?
The simplest thing to do is anything that you refrain from doing for fear of rejection or being judged. While I can’t say exactly what that is for you, one or more of these things is sure to make you feel a little uneasy:
- Start singing your favorite song next time you’re in a public place such as a grocery store
- Next time you hear music in public, dance, even if no one else is dancing
- Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger who seems ‘out of your league’
- Next time you’re in line somewhere, sit down, just for a few moments and then get back up
If you can do all four of those things above without hesitation, you’re already quite confident so I’m not talking to you.
Again, it doesn’t have to be one of those things. The point is to figure out what things fear (of rejection or judgement) prevents you from doing and start doing those things. It really is the only way.
You’ll eventually cease to be attached to outcomes and will naturally just go for what you want. That is the essence of confidence.
Honesty & Integrity
I put these as one because many people consider them the same thing. They aren’t. They are closely related enough to be discussed under the same heading but they are certainly not the same thing. You can actually be one and not the other at times. However, when you consistently display both traits all the time, you have a pretty solid foundation for success.
So what is honesty? What is integrity? How is there a difference?
Well, you could probably go to various sources and get many different answers to these questions. I like to keep it simple. My favorite definition is one that comes from Mr. Stephen Covey in his landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That definition is:
“Honesty is conforming your words to reality, integrity is conforming reality to your words”
So honesty is conforming your words to reality.
What exactly does that mean?
It means that you tell things the way they are. You speak your mind. You don’t make up things up or exaggerate to impress people. Some people think of honesty as merely not lying, but it’s much more than that. It’s keeping your words true to yourself and others about reality at any given moment.
Think about this for a second: if someone asks you how you’re doing and you say ‘good’, but you’re actually really upset, is that a lie? Most people would say that it isn’t. I would agree that it’s not lying in the traditional sense, but at the same time it isn’t really true.
Giving a real response in that situation will resonate more with the person. It always does when you can drop your guard and get real for a moment. You don’t have to go into the details of your problem. Just responding in an uncommon, non-autopilot way will make you stand out and seem more attractive and charismatic.
Bonus tip for you fellas out there that wonder why jerks seem to get all the girls. It’s because they are honest, at least in this way. They don’t people please. Their confidence in themselves and what they believe comes out in their words. Strangely enough, that seems to be the exception and not the rule.
Nice guys don’t finish last because they are ‘nice’. More times than not they finish last because they are trying to please and aren’t being genuine.
Integrity is conforming reality to your words
What does that mean?
Quite simply, it means doing what you say you’re going to do. It means keeping commitments and not breaking promises.
When I talk about keeping commitments and not breaking promises, most people quickly assume that means to other people. While it certainly does mean that, it doesn’t only mean that.
Sometimes the hardest person to keep commitments and promises to is yourself. I don’t need to start talking about all the failed diets and exercise programs that we’re all too familiar with, but you get the point.
In order to improve your level of attractiveness and increase charisma, you will need to improve yourself overall. This is not an easy task, but it is a worthy task, and in order to do it you will have to make and keep commitments to yourself. Here are just a couple of examples:
- You want to learn more about a subject, so you tell yourself (your own words) that you are going to read about it for 30 minutes each day. Then, you have to actually do the work of reading about that subject for 30 minutes a day (conforming reality to your words).
- You want to lose 10 pounds over the next month so you tell yourself (your own words) that you are going to run 4 times a week and eliminate all fried foods and dairy. Then, you actually have to force yourself to go running and consciously avoid fried foods and dairy (conforming reality to your words).
People with a rock solid integrity laugh when others say “easier said than done” because they fully intend to, and usually do, make good on everything they say they will.
Passion is closely related to confidence and is one of those universally attractive characteristics. Have you ever gotten interested in something just because someone else seemed so excited about it? That’s passion.
People with passion have an overwhelming zeal for life and you can’t help but be drawn to them. People don’t always start off as passionate individuals but, like many other things, passion can be developed.
Some people believe passion is one of those things that you either have or you don’t. I don’t believe that. While some people may have found their passion early in life, I firmly believe that we can all discover or create it.
Or perhaps maybe we all notice it at a very young age and some of us are more resilient to the conditioning of our family, friends, and environment?
Either way, it’s never impossible to be passionate about something. As you get older, it may be more difficult to break out of your comfort zone and do things differently, but that is what will eventually reveal what your true passion is.
Finding a passion also isn’t a spectator sport, you actually have to get out there and try new things. You have to speak to new people and go different places. On top of that, you have to present the real you to these new people and places.
Galileo might have said it best:
“Passion is the genesis of genius”
With enough passion and confidence, everything else will naturally start to fall into place.
Charismatic people are usually patient people as well. It’s hard to exude charisma if you behave like everything annoys you and you easily get chippy with people on a daily basis.
This is a pretty obvious one. If you have a short fuse then it’s highly unlikely others will consider you a charismatic person. And also unlikely that people will want to be around you for long periods of time.
It takes patience to really listen to someone. Most of the time when two people are engaging, one is talking about his or herself and the other is reloading. Each one is dying to get their story out.
Since people generally love to talk about themselves, the person who actively listens and asks meaningful follow up questions is a breath of fresh air.
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone, try to go as long as possible without talking about yourself. Make it a point to not say anything about yourself unless the other person asks you a direct question. This will probably be harder than you think!
The natural response to someone telling you a story is to respond with a similar experience. Try not to do this. Give it everything you’ve got and simply ask the other person more questions. Dig deeper. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Make a habit of doing this and you’ll find more and more people wanting to talk to you.
Sense of Humor
This one is kind of a no brainer. People who never seem to find amusement with anything just aren’t fun to be around. Of course, the other extreme is incredibly annoying as well.
If you have a good sense of humor, most everyone is going to enjoy your company.
But what is a good sense of humor and who determines what ‘good’ is?
There is no formal definition and each individual might have their own perspective, but I’ll tell you what it means to me. You can choose whether or not you agree with my meaning.
I believe that having a good sense of humor really just boils down to the ability to experience and communicate the absurdity of life in a way that resonates with others.
For example, take two fictional people and put them in the same situation. John does not have a good sense of humor and Stacy does. John and Stacy are both pulled over on the way to meet up with friends and both receive a speeding ticket.
When John gets to the bar he is sullen and moody. His visit starts with him complaining about getting a speeding ticket. This quickly turns into complaining about not having the money to pay for the ticket. Before you know it, John is going on and on about all of the troubles in his life and how things just aren’t fair.
Stacy on the other hand, gets to the bar fired up…but in a good way: “You won’t believe what just happened to me!” Stacy says with a big grin. She goes on to make fun of the officer that pulled her over saying that he looked like an 80s porn star. She jokes about how she thought about offering to do a scene with him to get out of the ticket.
See the difference? Both people experienced a similar event but they handled it in totally different ways. One group of friends was probably brought down while the other enjoyed some laughs.
Having a sense of humor is largely about not taking yourself so seriously and being able to find humor in your own imperfections.
Not a bad segue to #6 on this list.
First and foremost let’s be clear that humility does not mean low self-esteem, unassertive, or meek. Those traits do not draw others in and are therefore not consistent with someone who exudes charisma.
Humility, as I want to define it is the quality of knowing your worth but knowing your worth doesn’t exceed others’. Humility is when you can be incredibly important without any need for validation or ego gratification.
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”
I’m not sure you can say it much better than that.
I’ve heard stories of different CEOs who make consistent efforts to engage with the lowest rung staff members in the company. That’s humility. In contrast, there are some CEOs who believe they are far superior to anyone and everyone who is in a position beneath theirs. That’s arrogance.
Humility is an attractive and charismatic trait because it shows that a person is genuine. It gives the impression that the person is doing what they are doing for a higher purpose and not for self indulgence.
Remembering people’s names is probably one of the best habits a person can build to be seen as more charismatic. It seems like such an obvious thing but many of us are pretty bad at it.
Much of this is because we simply don’t ever use their name. It’s amazing how easy it is to remember a person’s name once we call them by it a few times.
Get into the habit of using a person’s name as quickly as possible when you meet them. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to immediately say “Hello Mark, Susan, Jessica, etc”. Then end the conversation by saying “Nice to meet you Mark, Susan, Jessica, etc.”
If and when you see the person again, they’ll be delighted that you remembered their name (especially since they are probably like most people and don’t remember yours)
In the book How To Win Friends and Influence People, one of Dale Carnegie’s six ways to make people like you is remembering people’s names. He says:
“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. “The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.” People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.”
If that isn’t enough motivation to make an effort to remember people’s names, just think about how you feel about someone who doesn’t remember yours. I’m guessing that charismatic isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
It would be misleading to say that these are the only positive traits that charismatic people have. That doesn’t change the fact that these are some of the big hitters. If you consistently display these 7 traits or habits, it will be nearly impossible to not exude charisma as side effect.
This is by no means an easy task, however, the road can be easier if you know exactly what you want and have clearly defined that. Creating a personal mission and or vision is a great place to start. I’ve got a handy little (FREE) worksheet to guide you through it. Scroll down to grab your copy today. Also be sure to check out my ultimate guide to becoming the best version of yourself.
In addition, you might want to check out these books on charisma:
The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane
Charisma on Command by Charlie Houpert
The Like Switch by Jack Schafer