The Secret of Charisma

Want to be the charming person that everyone else is attracted to? Think charisma is something you're born with? That's a myth! Click to learn the powerful secret of charisma.

Lisa B. Marshall,
January 24, 2013
Episode #188

The Secret of Charisma

My book, Smart Talk, launched this week, and last night I found out that it has already become an Amazon Best Seller! In celebration, I wanted to share with you an exclusive excerpt from the book. This is the only time I'll be using materials from the book in The Public Speaker podcast, so I hope you'll take the time to hear the entire episode.  

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This excerpt is from Chapter 14 of Smart Talk. It's called "Magically Delicious: How to Unleash Your Inner Charisma." 

The Myth of Charisma

Whether you call it charm or charisma, the person who possesses this quality is powerful. They have a knack for making their conversation partner feel like the most important person in the room. Most people think of charisma and charm as intangible qualities, irreducible character traits, an “X-factor” that only a select few are born with.

However, that’s a myth! Research suggests that charisma is a set of behaviors, or internal characteristics, that can be developed. Even the shyest people can transform themselves into charismatic charmers. And that’s great news, because that means it’s inside all of us, and we can all learn to unlock our charismatic potential. We all can be the person everyone else is attracted to, is charmed by, and enjoys conversing with. It means that being charismatic and likable is, in fact, a choice. However, being charming and charismatic doesn’t mean sucking up, being extroverted, bubbly, or witty.

According to Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth, having charisma means demonstrating presence, warmth, andpower all the same time. For me, it means showing genuine carefor others, while at the same time exuding authentic authority.

Increase Positive Moments

But before we talk about how you can develop these skills, allow me a small, but important, digression about the importance of positive moments. Dr. Daniel Kahnemen, one of the world’s most influential psychologists specializing in how our experiences affect our abilities and perceptions, suggests5 that we experience approximately 20,000 moments each day and the quality of our day is determined by how our brains recognize and interpret these moments. He describes three general classifications of moments that our brains track: positive, negative, and neutral. Kahneman says our mood is defined by the ratio of positive to negative experiences over the course of a day.

Quick Quiz: Do you think you experience more positive moments than negative moments? What do you think your personal average positive to negative ratio is? How about your work environment? What is the ratio there?

Researchers have spent a lot of time exploring how the ratio of positive to negative experiences affects both our work and personal lives. Remember, in chapter 6 on delivering feedback, I mentioned how the magic ratio of 5:1 was used to predict marital success. In the workplace, psychologist Marcial Losada showed that you need at least a positivity/negativity ratio of approximately 3:1 and maximum of 11:1 for teams to flourish.

That means you should aim for at least 3 (and a maximum of 11) positive interactions for every one negative interaction. In this “Losada Zone” teams report that time flies by, creativity thrives, and productivity increases dramatically. Below that ratio teams become incapable of working together effectively. In fact, Losada reported that in one organization the initial ratio was raised from 1.5:1 to 3.5:1 and the productivity increased by 40%. Psychologist Sidney Jourard found that a staggering 85 percent of a person’s happiness in life comes not from possessions, accomplishments, or achievements, but from positive interactions with other people.

Here’s another important point: people are attracted to positive people. So in order to attract others to us we need to be positive and genuinely happy ourselves. The good news is that according to psychologists, happiness is also a choice.  Interestingly, research also suggests that happiness comes down to having meaningful connections. In fact, according to ActionForHappiness.org, “the main external factor affecting a person’s happiness is the quality of their relationships, at home, at work, and in the community.”

When taken together, all this data suggests major implications for how we can improve the quality of our lives and how we might go about unleashing our inner charm. The key is to leave people feeling good about their encounters with you. It’s about creating positive moments for others (which in turn creates positive moments for yourself).

Quick Quiz: What have you done or said to others today? In what ways do you think you could improve the positive to negative ratio of those around you?

The next step is to make sure you’re on the winning side of someone’s positive-to-negative ratio. So what are some ways to positively influence people’s perceptions of you and increase your likability and charm?  You’ll have to buy the book to find out!

There are currently 3 fun ways to learn about the book:

  1. You can take the challenge at SmartTalkSuccess.com. If you complete the challenge before the end of April, you’ll be eligible for some great bonuses including a chance to win an iPad mini.

  2. You can take the Smart Talk Quiz and test your communication IQ

  3. You can get Smart Tips sent to your phone.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication; your success is my business. 


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