While you may not think of yourself as being charismatic, charisma is a quality that can be developed. And it can be helpful as you search for employment, re-establish relationships after incarceration and live your life.
Yes, you too can be charismatic. Just ask Richard Reid, a London-based coaching psychologist who is CEO of Pinnacle Wellbeing Services and known by many as Mr. Charisma.
A former business consultant, he decided to change careers and reinvent himself as a therapist and coach. Over the years he learned that many business people have challenges based on a lack of self-esteem and/or confidence. So in 2002 Reid decided to specialize in charisma and has been doing so ever since. He offers workshops and private consulting and has helped hundreds of people develop the skills they need to be successful.
What is charisma?
According to Reid, “Charisma is about charming other people. It’s being the best version of yourself. And it’s about getting people to think good things about you and getting them think good things about themselves,” he says. “By doing that we create more opportunities for ourselves.”
There are certain characteristics of a person with charisma, according to Reid. It’s someone who is memorable. Who stands out from the crowd. Who owns their own personality.
It’s being confident enough to determine your story and who you are as a person, and make others feel safe. Charismatic individuals get people to believe in them and their ideas. And, as a result, their needs and desires will be addressed by those they come into contact with.
How to develop charisma
But how do you learn to be charismatic, one might ask. Reid says it’s about creating self-awareness. Being cognizant of how you behave and how you interact with other people.
It’s recognizing what’s special about you, so you can do it better. “If we’re trying to be someone we’re not, people are not going to trust us,” he says.
Managing emotions plays an important role in being charismatic. And this can be a particular challenge for those who have been incarcerated.
“People need to recognize their emotions. When we’re not aware of our emotions, we can’t manage them. When we’re not in control of our emotions, even if we’re fantastically charismatic, they get in the way,” Reid says.
“People don’t just judge us on the obvious things. If I’m nervous or impatient when I go for an interview, people will wonder whether I can handle the job. We tend to gravitate toward people who are able to remain calm, demonstrate some level of authority and demonstrate some level of kindness toward others.”
Another step in developing charisma is to practice mindfulness. This also has to do with awareness, but on a broader basis. “When you’re walking around are you aware of your surroundings? It’s about what’s happening in real time. We think about things that are going to happen rather than things that are happening right now.”
Charismatic people are fairly flexible in their behavior. They can change the way they respond to people and situations to become more appealing.
Don’t ignore body language
Body language is an important element of charisma. “When we’re more mindful, we’re more aware of our body language. When we’re nervous we’re more erratic about how we use our hands, for example. Just being aware of how we use our hands means we can use them for greater effect when speaking.”
“It can be quite useful to look at yourself in the mirror or watch videos of yourself to see how you come across,” Reid says. “Or even getting feedback from people who we trust can be invaluable.”
It’s also important to show an interest in the other people you come into contact with. “How we conduct our conversations is the main part. We can be so focused on the outcome that we don’t listen to what the other person’s saying,” he says.
“Often when we meet people we’re so focused on ourselves that we forget there’s a person on the receiving end. You need to ask yourself, How is this person reacting toward what I’ve said? Do I need to say more? Am I on the right track? Am I talking too much?”
Think more intentionally about the types of questions to ask. Don’t ask questions that just require a yes or no answer, but use open ended questions, Reid recommends. For example, don’t ask, “Did you have a good weekend?” Rather ask, “How was your weekend, and what did you do?” You will get more information that way and be able to build rapport. “Particularly if it’s positive things you’re asking them, they’ll probably want to spend more time with you,” he says.
And if you want to learn more about charisma, Reid suggests picking up The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane. There are a number of videos about charisma on YouTube to learn from, including this talk the author gave on her book.