My students learn about charisma when we discuss delivery. Some scholars have found that delivery influences audience’s perceptions of charisma more than any other factor (such as content). Some people buy into the idea that charisma is a gift bestowed on the precious few. I firmly believe in this idea that charisma is an action, something we do, something we work toward and develop through our interactions with people over time.
We can have a nature versus nurture debate all day. Certainly, yes, some people learn at an earlier age than others how to appeal to the needs of people. Even so, I believe a personality trait is something we can all grow over time. While we may never all be at the same level – the pinnacle of “charismatic,” we can work to develop our charisma over time. Therefore, I believe charisma is a combination of both nature and nurture, and I believe it is something we can develop.
The BBC News recently published an article about charisma. Researchers claim that charisma boils down to three things: 1) showing passion, 2) inducing passion in others, and 3) avoiding the influence of other charismatic people (Source). Researchers also claim “charisma” is 50% nature and 50% nurture. While I don’t know that we can specify charisma as 50/50 in every single case, I support the idea that we can grow our charisma.
Jeff Haden discusses charisma in “How To Be More Charismatic: 10 Habits Of Remarkably Charismatic People.” I like Haden’s approach. He says charisma isn’t something we are but is something we do, a collection of people-centered actions. He describes 10 ways we can be more charismatic.
First, we can listen more than we talk. Second, we can really hear people and listen closely to their needs. Third, we can put our “stuff” away – our devices – so that we really connect with people. Fourth, we can give before we receive and sometimes never receive at all. Fifth, we can stop acting as if we are self important. Sixth, we can make other people feel important. Seventh, we can shine a spotlight on others. Eighth, we can carefully select our words. Ninth, we can stop discussing the failings of others and gossiping about people. Tenth, we can readily admit our own personal failings (Source).
Even if we weren’t born charismatic, using Haden’s tips, we can make a choice to grow and cultivate this personality trait in our everyday lives. After all, haven’t we already learned from Amy Cuddy that we can fake it ’til we become it?
What are your feelings on charisma?