Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Charisma: Why You Need Some, How To Get It

Inspired by Charisma: Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success by Tony Alessandra, Ph.D.

There are so many components to being successful. One’s education, network of contacts, appearance, creativity, and personality all dynamically conspire to bring about the picture of success. But perhaps no greater personal characteristic will separate one from another than that of charisma.  Just what is it and how does one get a healthy dosage?

Motivator, lecturer, and corporate bullshitter Tony Alessandra told us, in a book 13 years ago, how to bring out the charismatic you so that you can properly acquire power to achieve favorable outcomes. I thought it was worth revisiting his wise words.

His first bit of advice? “Ask others for feedback.”

If you want to improve, you will need to first learn the ugly truth of where you stand on the charisma meter. Of course, if you ask people for feedback who have charm and charisma, they will find a way to dance around the question, because part of being the magnetic personality that everyone loves and is drawn to means not being overly critical. No one likes to hear the truth --even when they ask for it. They lose sight of the message in exchange for wanting to annihilate the messenger.

The author’s definition of a charismatic person involves a person who presents in a passionate manner, one that Alessandra says: “You’d probably follow to a convention of cannibals if that’s where he wanted to lead you.”

Just what are men and women endowed with that makes us drawn to some of them? Alessandra suggests: “Charisma is the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally and intellectually.”

I think we are drawn to people who can serve us in some way. We covet those with wealth, power, and beauty – or at the very least, a wit, charm, and sense of being the center of action, where all else revolves around then. We like those who dress well, dazzle us with their words, entertain us with their jokes, adroitly adjust so smoothly to any personality or situation and, as Alessandra says: “projects an attractive, exciting image that makes us feel good just being around them.”

Charisma goes hand in hand with leadership. A leader must have passion and express his ardor, zeal, and enthusiasm. We want our leaders to be intoxicating. We will always follow the one who sounds powerful, exciting, and forward-thinking. The leader who galvanizes us to action has to present a magical image or we quickly lose faith.

A charismatic individual silently communicates trust, expertise, and knowledge. This person is outgoing, expressive, and direct, able to sell anything to anybody through sheer force of personality. Does such an individual have a moral obligation to use this ability, this power for only good and proper purposes?

We know of too many leaders who use their charisma for evil reasons. Heads of state, religious cults, and businesses throughout history have led masses of followers down dangerous, life-altering and life-destroying paths. Charisma, like any tool, must be used wisely. Indeed, the author believes anyone is capable of being charismatic, so be careful to use this power for a good purpose. Alessandra entices us with the possibilities: “You needn’t remain who you are. You can greatly improve your personal magnetism and be all you’ve always wanted to be: assured, commanding, stimulating, and energetic.”

We know we’re attracted to individuals who project confident and positive images, who present an enticing vision with exuberance and intelligence. We want to believe that what they say and do is right and good. These people capture our hearts, shining a bright sparkle that makes us want to seek them out in a crowd.

Alessandra points out: “We react most strongly and positively to those who are open and spontaneous – those who don’t fear rejection, who communicate a sincere interest in others, who stride self-confidently into the world around them.”

The charismatic person makes us feel like we should want to impress them, filling us with the obligation to do something for them that will permit us to remain in their presence.

But charismatic people do not rely on smoke and mirrors to project their image. They must be sincere and hardworking, ready to back it all up with what Alessandra lists as: “knowledge, character, skill, experience, and nobility of purpose, or it will eventually be seen as the fa├žade that it is.”

The author notes that anyone at any level or status can develop and display charisma. All you need to do is act the part you seek to have and you become it. Assume you have positional power (a title) and take a leadership role, thus creating your own power. Carry a mystique and you will begin to influence those who are eager to bestow a measure of power in your hands. You don’t need actual authority to amass power. Articulate a vision, express a certain image, and talk about a compelling future and boom, there you have it: power!

You infect others with your style and in turn, they give you respect and power. You lead them by words, by deed, by charm. It’s a continuous cycle that feeds on itself until something breaks the chain.

So, how do you become an impact player, a person of power? It begins with communication style. Here five areas to consider:
1.      When you talk to people, look them in the eye, but not all the time – only in select moments for emphasis.

2.      Empower others by giving some of your power away. Create a work ethic that allows others to feel they can tackle more and let them try to please or impress you. By convincing them you care about them while they already care about you, will allow for them to feel moved to action.  “The truly influential person,” Alessandra writes, “the charismatic person, strives to create feelings of collaboration and equality.” He adds, “When people feel someone is making them do something, they’re often frustrated and resentful – and as a result, they dig in their heels.”

3.      Make others feel they have a choice, even when it is clear what action you desire they take.

4.      Good-naturedly challenge or encourage others to seek greater levels of production and achievement.

5.      Radiate joy and interest that makes others want to be around you. Don’t be critical, pessimistic, negative and intolerant of things that bother you – it conveys the wrong message. People are drawn to smiles, laughs, and optimism.

The charismatic person is convinced his or her power comes from within. They feel ultimately responsible for their own success. Whatever one focuses on he or she helps make it come true, multiplying its strength. Think positively, and new opportunities open up to you; think pessimistically and doors close.

Are we slaves to circumstance or are we free to interpret life in our own way? The charismatic person is a leader, one who possesses a presence or aura, able to maintain a certain level of excitement about themselves.

To aid your pursuit of achieving a charismatic personality, do the following:

·         When you ask someone to do something, always ask pleasantly and say “please,” especially when giving a directive to a person of less authority – maid, secretary, etc.
·         Always smile and look your best.
·         Discuss your accomplishments and shortcomings honestly.
·         Give and receive compliments readily.
·         To not feel out of place with strangers, meet people outside your normal range of experience and socializing.
·         Ask questions and get facts before stating your views to someone you believe acted improperly.
·         Be current on world affairs so that you can smoothly and intelligently comment on anything in the news.

Perhaps the best way to be charismatic is to simply approach life with a positive mindset and everything else will fall into place.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

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