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Charisma: 5 Secrets of People Who Successfully Developed It

beautiful confident afroamerican woman smiling, she's working in an office

In this article we’re going to talk about how to successfully develop charisma. First of all, think of someone you know who is charismatic.

Anyone who lights up the room the moment they show up. What is in your opinion the secret behind their charm? The way they talk? What they say? Or the way they move?

According to Psychology Today staff, charisma is the ability to charm and influence others. Also, while some people see it as something elusive, some experts stated that the skills of charismatic people can actually be learned.

Another interesting definition of charisma is this:

“A personal quality, evident in the way an individual communicates to others, that makes someone more influential. This power to attract attention and influence people can be embodied in the way someone speaks, what someone says, and how someone looks when communicating.”

The elements of charisma

In particular, as Andrea Giuliodori mentioned in one of his recent articles, charisma arises from the combination of three elements:

  • Power, the ability to influence people;
  • Presence, the ability not only to give your undivided attention, but also to attract the attention of others;
  • Warmth, the ability to leverage power and presence in support of others.

The forms of charisma

Something interesting about this personal quality is that, as author Olivia Fox Cabane explains, there are four different form of charisma:

  1. Focus charisma. Think about Oprah, for example, who listens attentively and makes people feel heard and understood.
  2. Visionary charisma. Think about people like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk who inspire people to follow them and their vision.
  3. Kindness charisma. Here, think about people who have a very high emotional intelligence, and whose strength is their warmth, like the Dalai Lama for example.
  4. Authority charisma. This is about power and social status. Think of political leaders, for instance — I like the example Giuliodori mentions in his article, Napoleon Bonaparte. Also, if you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, think of Gustavo Fring. Fan of Money Heist? Think of Berlin.

All the charismatic people we can think of belong to one of these four categories, depending on their personality and values.

This is why, in order to develop charisma, you have to identify among its four forms the one that most applies to your character and beliefs.

Once you know the category you belong to, you can start to observe the charismatic people you chose as a model to follow and and learn from them.

What follows are a few qualities of charismatic people that you can learn and apply in your daily life.

You can “pick” the ones that most align with your personality and values and start to develop them.

Charisma Secret #1: Eloquence

As Jeoffrey James wrote in Inc, eloquent people “use language and body language to win the hearts and minds of their listeners.”

Think about Abraham Lincoln. Or Winston Churchill. They are perfect examples of eloquence.

Eloquent people have this ability to capture anyone’s attention and interest. And you can learn their skill by observing them and what they tend to do when they speak.

To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.

— Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus

How to apply this:

Eloquence is more than just how you speak. It also has a lot to do with how you use your body language. So, when you talk remember to:

  • Keep your chin up;
  • Smile (without overdoing it);
  • Avoid slouching;
  • Make eye contact (don’t overdo it though);
  • Use your hands while you speak if you want, but don’t make my same mistake: don’t exaggerate (I’m Italian, I can’t control it that much);
  • Do what I just did: use a little bit of humor, laugh at yourself, but don’t overdo it.
  • Speak slowly;
  • Use short pauses to create emphasis.

Charisma Secret #2: Empathy

No one has it who isn’t capable of genuinely liking others, at least at the actual moment of meeting and speaking. Charm is always genuine; it may be superficial but it isn’t false.

— P.D. James

As Peg Streep explains in Psychology Today, empathy is the foundation for deep connection and emotional intimacy, and without it, relationships remain shallow.

Another interesting thing is we’re born with the capacity for empathy, but it’s a learned behavior.

Empathy is not something you can fake. However, with time you can learn and develop it.

How to apply this:

  • Think about someone empathic you know, observe what they do when they are around you or other people, and how they make others feel good, learn from them;
  • Learn to become aware of your own emotion. This is the first step to develop empathy;
  • Learn to put yourself in other people’s shoes; ask yourself how you would feel if you were in their same position; try to feel the emotions related with their situation.

Charisma Secret #3: Vulnerability

Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.

— Brené Brown

As I explained in an article about vulnerability, people will appreciate you just as much — if not more — for your vulnerable side than if you were perfect.

We were taught that being vulnerable could make others perceive us as weak. However, the opposite is true. People who are not afraid to be vulnerable are perceived as strong.

How to apply this:

Learn to harness the power of vulnerability. Keep in mind that showing your most authentic side won’t make you “less lovable” or “less likable.” If fact, it usually makes others feel closer to you.

You can start by revealing a past mistake, a past failure or a defect.

Secret #4: Giving Your Undivided Attention

Charisma is not just saying hello. It’s dropping what you’re doing to say hello.

— Robert Brault

I know I already mentioned this, however, I can’t stress it enough. There’s no better way than giving your full attention to someone to make them feel good around you.

Once I even read that being present and giving your undivided attention to someone is, according to research, one of the most attractive traits someone can have.

How to apply this:

Secret #5: Having a Strong Life Purpose

Charisma is the transference of enthusiasm.

— Ralph Archbold

There’s nothing more magnetic than someone who knows exactly what they want and have a clear idea of where they are going.

Having a strong life purpose is typical of the visionary and authority charisma types.

Think about anyone you know that is highly motivated and focused on their life project. That’s the type of mindset I’m talking about.

How to apply this:

Make sure to have clear short-term and long-term goals. Although this is not always easy, trying to have a clear idea of where you want to be in five or ten years can help you plan your goals in that direction and keep you motivated.

Charisma – Conclusion

To sum up, charisma consists of three elements: power, presence, and warmth.

Some key qualities charismatic people usually have in common are:

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