The Chemistry of Charisma

Presence. Power. Warmth. The chemistry of charisma.  Is it an inborn quality or can it be cultivated? Olivia Fox Cabane, left, believes that we can become charismatic. Her book, The Charisma Myth. How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism demystifies charisma and tells how to nurture the magical appeal that draws others to us.

Warmth – being fully present for another person, listening completely – is not something we can fake. When we are present, those around us feel listened to, valued, and respected. Power – the ability to effect the world around us – is magnetic. We are drawn to people who are influential, effective, and move powerfully with ease.

Body language communicates charisma. Charismatic gestures and posture are unconscious expressions of our internal landscape. We cannot micromanage our body language, but we can work with our imagination to actually change our minds and bodies. By neutralizing negative mind states – self-doubt, self criticism and dissatisfaction – we free ourselves from attitudes that hold us back. We overcome the obstacles to charisma.

Cabane suggests ways to destigmatize and dedramatize uncomfortable feelings, to create a new internal reality. Self –compassion is critical to emanating warmth. It is what enables us to forgive ourselves when we’ve fallen short, says Cabane. It’s what prevents internal criticism from taking over, playing across our face, ruining our charismatic potential.

Cabane’s book gives extensive details on the process of becoming charismatic, but if you want to try some quick techniques, she offers these ideas:

•    Increase eye contact: not just the amount, but the right kind. Intensely focused but cold is not the right kind. Increase the warmth in that contact.

•    Take up more space — literally. Imagine yourself as a big gorilla. Look bigger, inflate your chest. And quit nodding. Too much nodding appears overeager and overanxious.

•    Pause two seconds before you speak. Don’t use it at every single sentence, of course. But it gives people the feeling that what they say is so important that you’re absorbing it.

•    Keep still.  Composed people exhibit a level of stillness described as poise. They avoid superfluous gestures – fidgeting with their clothes, their hair, or their faces, saying um before sentences, or incessantly nodding their heads.

Charisma can change the way people relate to us, so we can step into leadership roles. Charismatic presence is something deep inside that we can develop, by stretching out of comfort zones and accessing different parts of ourselves to project presence, power and warmth.

The Charisma Myth – How Anyone Can Master the art and Science of Personal Magnetism
by Olivia Fox Cabane

Attract Love

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The Secret to Attracting Love

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