We all know that person who just seems to draw people in. They seem to be a natural leader, they are engaging, they make personal connections easily, and they always have the best stories. Charisma is a trait that many of us view as either something we have or something we don’t. But in a recent New York Times article “What Makes People Charismatic, and How You Can Be, Too,” the author argues it’s very much a practiced trait and there are different kinds of charisma we can learn.
While we all seem to be able to identify people or celebrities who have charisma, we often have a hard time quantifying or describing what exactly makes someone charismatic. The article says there are three basic pillars of charisma:
The first pillar, presence, involves residing in the moment. When you find your attention slipping while speaking to someone, refocus by centering yourself. Pay attention to the sounds in the environment, your breath and the subtle sensations in your body — the tingles that start in your toes and radiate throughout your frame.
Power, the second pillar, involves breaking down self-imposed barriers rather than achieving higher status. It’s about lifting the stigma that comes with the success you’ve already earned. Impostor syndrome, as it’s known, is the prevalent fear that you’re not worthy of the position you’re in. The higher up the ladder you climb, the more prevalent the feeling becomes.
The key to this pillar is to remove self-doubt, assuring yourself that you belong and that your skills and passions are valuable and interesting to others. It’s easier said than done.
The third pillar, warmth, is a little harder to fake. This one requires you to radiate a certain kind of vibe that signals kindness and acceptance. It’s the sort of feeling you might get from a close relative or a dear friend. It’s tricky, considering those who excel here are people who invoke this feeling in others, even when they’ve just met.
I think breaking down charisma into pillars is an interesting perspective, and as people look at building relationships and working to improve their professional image, it’s a way to think about how you can be more charismatic and engaging.
Many may find it hard to master all three pillars, and that’s why it’s key to look at your personality and see the best way to play to your strengths. If you’re a people-person, working on exuding warmth and ensuring you’re present and engaged in what people have to say may be the best way to become more charismatic. If you’re someone who’s an issue-area expert, you can lean on the power pillar like article examples Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.