Charisma: How to Radiate Warmth and Confidence

Charisma How to Radiate Warmth and Confidence

Some people are intoxicating to be with. You know the ones. They have a way of making you feel important, noticed, and they linger in your thoughts for a while after they’re gone – not (necessarily) in a romantic, falling in love kind of way, or an obsessive, ‘let’s see what our mutual friends, Google or Facebook, say about you’ kind of way, but in the kind of way that leaves you feeling bigger, more energised and with the impression that they’re someone pretty wonderful. 

They captivate. They have you noticing, and when they speak, they have you listening, hearing and open to their influence. Sometimes they’ll shift your mood just by being with you for a while.

They’re sought after, enjoyed, trusted, remembered and influential. Their magic lies, not so much in what they say or do, but how they make you feel – and anyone can do it. Here’s how:

  1. Tell your stories – but for the right reason.

    It’s great to tell stories, as long as they’re told to connect, rather than to show people how clever, attractive or important you are. Stories told to connect are powerful. Stories that are told from a position of self importance won’t fool anyone. Be humble, funny, personal and a story that pulls tighter on a common between you both will be gold. There will be times when talking about your strengths will be exactly the way to go, but just make sure it’s for the right reasons.

  2. Be vulnerable.

    Vulnerability is powerful. And charming. There are a few ways to do this – with praise, by being emotionally generous, or by telling a story which shows that you as less than perfect. Vulnerability can have the effect of communicating confidence, establishing trust in the people you’re talking to, and can increase your likeability by giving permission for others to take a risk or to be less than perfect themselves. 

  3. Let your body talk. Your mind is listening.

    Charisma is a perfect blend of warmth and confidence. The connection between our mind and our body is a strong one, and what we do with our body, has the power to influence what we think and feel. To feel confident, act as though you are. Assuming a more confident pose will help actually change the way you feel. Stand small, and you’ll feel smaller, but expand a little (taller, more open) and you’ll feel more confident. Before you go into a social situation (or any situation in which a boost in confidence would come in handy), hold a confident pose for two minutes. Do it in private if that feels easier.

    Research by Harvard professor Amy Cuddy has found that striking a power pose for two minutes (standing tall, chin raised, arms stretched, or legs apart with hands of hips – Wonder Woman style) initiates an increase in testosterone (the dominance hormone) and a decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone), which will increase feelings of confidence. 

  4. Show, don’t tell.

    There’s just no short-cut to getting people to warm to you. We’ve all been with people who  grab at a barely-there opportunity to talk about how great they are. ‘Sigh. I was back in my XXS pre-baby clothes within two weeks of giving birth. I think it all comes down to self-discipline – you know, nutrition, exercise and plenty of sleep. And effort … like … I spent ages finding the perfect nanny. And personal trainer. And personal chef. And my husband loves me for it, don’tcha baby!’ Ugh. Be patient and let people feel how good you are to be with – show them, don’t tell them. Let the other person be the centre of the world for a little while and feel what it’s like to have your attention and energy.

  5. Interested is interesting.

    Don’t worry about what you’re going to say. (Unless you’re getting paid to speak, and there’s an audience waiting to hear what you have to say then, yeah, worry.) The magic is in the listening – and it is like magic. Forget about trying to be interesting – that will come when you show interest in what someone has to say, and when it does come it will be effortless.

  6. Be curious.

    Go into a conversation with the intention of finding out something interesting about the other person. Everyone has a story to tell and the best people to be around are the ones who encourage and give space for that story to be told. The story doesn’t have to be a big one – it’s not just the big details that make up a life, the smaller ones are important too. Whether it’s a story about the day, the weekend, work, kids, pets or the bigger things that make us who we are – everyone has something to say. Be curious, and encouarge their story to life.

  7. Shine the light on someone else.

    Offering praise is such a wonderful thing to do, but it can feel risky. ‘What if it’s not received? What if they get the wrong idea? When praise is genuine and given with generous intent, it can transform a moment, a person, a day. Praise will always have the capacity to lift the person who is receiving it, as well as the person giving it – it really is that powerful. Praise will inspire, warm and strengthen a connection. Do it without limits, but make sure it’s genuine. You’ll never know the difference you could be making to someone.

  8. Invite self-disclosure.

    Self-disclosure, food and money – they all have something in common. (Stay with me.) Research from Harvard University neuroscientists has found that self-disclosure activates the brain region associated with reward, triggering the same kind of happy that we get from food or money. It’s also the part of the brain that lights up with we find out that other people have the same opinion as we do, when we experience something funny, and when we catch a quick glimpse of someone kinda cute from the opposite sex, or whatever sex we’re attracted to. That doesn’t mean that everyone is a ‘hey how are you,’ away from sharing their life story, what it means is that when people share something, it feels good. Encourage self-disclosure from the person you’re with by being curious and by doing the little things that show you’re interested – nods, uh-huh, smiling.  

  9. Listen, without planning your response.

    One of the things that makes people ordinary at listening is the tendency to be planning a response while the other person is talking. This immediately dilutes your attentiveness – and people can tell. Rather than thinking about a response, think about what you would like to know more about.

    Be curious, more than ‘clever’. Research has shown that asking people to tell you more will instantly make you more likeable. When you encourage people to elaborate, those people will be more likely to want to spend time with you, more receptive to what you have to say, and more likely to judge what you’re saying as valid.

  10. Check your ego at the door.

    Invite opinion, but hold back on judgement. When you understand enough of someone’s story, the way they see the world usually starts to make sense. Ask questions that help you see the world through their eyes. It doesn’t mean you’ll agree with it, it just means that you can see how they personally got to their opinion. In the same circumstances, you might have got to a completely different one – and that’s okay. Showing interest doesn’t mean showing support for their point of view. It means that you’re open to listening, without judging, and this can feel captivating to be around. Let the person know that you would like to understand more about how they’ve arrived where they have, ‘I’d really like to understand – can you say more?

  11. Hold on tight to your humanity.

    Believe in the value and potential of others. Let the people you’re with feel noticed and important. The person who exudes confidence and positivity but believes they are better than everyone else will have limited influence, and limited likability. Generally, for these people, if they have influence it’s because they’ve manipulated things in that general direction, ‘You don’t have to believe that I’m Master of the entire freaking universe – I would never force my opinion on anyone because I’m, you know, great like that – but there might be a price to pay if you don’t, soooo, yeah … up to you.’. The only people who think arrogant people are good to be around are other arrogant people, though this will often end in a dogfight. Egos clashing with egos – you know how that’s going to end – usually with a fireball that can be seen from space through the eye of a needle. 

  12. Let go of being right.

    Correcting someone is an instant rapport killer. Yes you might be right, but that doesn’t mean the other person is wrong. Even if they are, jumping to point that out will lose them.  Research has found that when you say something that goes against what someone else believes, however right you are, their fight or flight response (the primitive, reactive, self-preservation part of the brain) will be activated. When this happens, the parts of the brain that are able to reason and think logically, will shut down as the person readies for the fight.  As soon as it becomes about winning, someone has to lose – usually both people will lose in some way. This isn’t about being passive, but about preserving the connection and having the other person feel heard, because it’s the best way to make sure that you are. 

  13. Start positive.

    Start a conversation with something positive and try to avoid your opening being about bad traffic, bad weather, bad food or bad news. There’s certainly a place for that, but just avoid letting it be right at the beginning. Positive words, positive feelings, positive impact.

    [irp posts=”771″ name=”The Way to Thrive: Emotional Intelligence – What, Why, How”]

     

  14. And end on a positive.

    When people reflect on an experience, they’re drawing on their memory of the experience, rather than the experience itself. Research has found that there are two things that influence this – the experience at its most intense, and what the experience was like at the end. People will rate an experience more positively (even if it’s an unpleasant experience, like a colonoscopy, studying or putting their hands in freezing water), if the last part of the experience is pleasant. So – when it comes to say goodbye, rather than waving and walking, try adding in something positive, such as ‘I really enjoyed talking with you,’ or ‘This has been fun. I love your shoes by the way.’

  15. Mirroring with words.

    Listen to the last words someone says, then repeat the words or the feeling contained in the words. So if someone says, ‘I’m so busy at the moment. I just don’t know how I’m going to get everything done.’ Try something like, ‘Feeling stretched hey?’ Similarly, if someone says, ‘My husband is away at the moment,’ Try, ‘Oh, your husband is away?’ This will show that you ‘get it’, and will invite further disclosure, strengthening the connection and the feeling that you’re someone pretty wonderful to be around.

  16. And anything else.

    Words only make up 7% of what we communicate so a hefty part of an interaction tied up in non-verbals. People are more likely to warm to people who are like themselves, so to build a connection, mirror any of tone of voice, volume, speed of speech, posture, facial expression, breathing, eye contact or gestures. You don’t have to mirror everything – coming across as genuine is important – but the more someone can sense your similarity to them, which will happen through mirroring, the greater the potential for connection. 

  17. Push through the small talk.

    You might have to wade through a bit of small talk but keep going, there will always be a point at which this is dwindles away and people share the things that are important. Everyone has something to say that is important and interesting. Eventually, you’ll be likely to find a common thread that will connect you – somewhere you’ve both been, someone you both know, something you’ve both experienced – there’ll be something.

    We’re all in this human thing together and encouraging this discovery by showing interest, asking questions, asking for more information could lead to something unexpected. Having someone’s full attention feels wonderful – there’s nothing quite like it. Humans are wired to connect and being attentive, available and interested is a supercharged way to do this.

  18. Find out what people love.

    People shine when they talk about what they love. Ask people what they enjoy, why they do what they do, the best thing about their weekend/ week/ holiday/ kids. If you can give people the opportunity to talk about something that makes them light up, that warm, happy feeling they have while they’re talking will be associated with you. 

  19. The slow smile has it.

    Research has shown that there is a way to smile – and slowly does it. People whose smiles take longer to emerge were rated as more attractive, trustworthy and less dominant than those whose smiles came on quickly. They were also judged to be more authentic. When you smile, make sure your eyes are involved. If your face smiles but your eyes get left behind, people will quickly know that you’re not really in it. 

  20. Get your happy on … like this.

    At the heart of charisma, right in there with warmth and confidence, is positive emotion. Research has found that activating your smiling muscles by holding a pen lengthways between your teeth will make you feel happier. Try this, and let the happiness, warmth and confidence flow. Changing your body will change the way you feel, which will change the way you’re seen.

Anyone can learn to increase their charisma. Like anything, it might feel awkward at first, but the capacity to be captivating is in all of us. Being magnetic has nothing to do with being the life of the party, having plenty of life experience to share or having plenty to say. It’s about how people feel around you, and when you learn to do it well, you’ll be unforgettable.

13 Comments

Kent

Thanks.

People say to be and express warmth…this article helps answer what that means.

Reply
sarah

Fantastic article! I’ve spent a great deal of time in the self help and personal improvement space, but very few people have so eloquently summed up the aspects that make a great human being. I think this article alone would make a great Ted Talk. Thanks so much for a great read!

Reply
Judith Gould

Loved it! I work with 14-19yr olds and this was just the refresher I needed going back to work!! I’m refocused and ready to go now!!

Reply
Michelle

I really loved this article. I found I have been implementing many of these strategies over the years and they have helped my social life immensely!! I’ve been trying to teach my daughter but it has been hard to verbalized. Now I just have to send her your article! Perfectly expressed. Thank you so much!

Reply
Sonja Pearson

Thank you for verbalizing and outlining a positive communication style. It is a great reference for those of us who struggle with authentic responses and are trying to create and maintain healthy relations.

Reply
DarEll

I really enjoyed this article. I was just talking to my daughter on this same subject. It was great timing and I also like the thoroughness of the article. Even a pro has tips for improvement. Good reminders, too. Thanks

Reply

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Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.
When the world feel sunsettled, the ripple can reach the hearts, minds and spirits of kids and teens whether or not they are directly affected. As the important adult in the life of any child or teen, you have a profound capacity to give them what they need to steady their world again.

When their fears are really big, such as the death of a parent, being alone in the world, being separated from people they love, children might put this into something else. 

This can also happen because they can’t always articulate the fear. Emotional ‘experiences’ don’t lay in the brain as words, they lay down as images and sensory experiences. This is why smells and sounds can trigger anxiety, even if they aren’t connected to a scary experience. The ‘experiences’ also don’t need to be theirs. Hearing ‘about’ is enough.

The content of the fear might seem irrational but the feeling will be valid. Think of it as the feeling being the part that needs you. Their anxiety, sadness, anger (which happens to hold down other more vulnerable emotions) needs to be seen, held, contained and soothed, so they can feel safe again - and you have so much power to make that happen. 

‘I can see how worried you are. There are some big things happening in the world at the moment, but my darling, you are safe. I promise. You are so safe.’ 

If they have been through something big, the truth is that they have been through something frightening AND they are safe, ‘We’re going through some big things and it can be confusing and scary. We’ll get through this. It’s okay to feel scared or sad or angry. Whatever you feel is okay, and I’m here and I love you and we are safe. We can get through anything together.’
I love being a parent. I love it with every part of my being and more than I ever thought I could love anything. Honestly though, nothing has brought out my insecurities or vulnerabilities as much. This is so normal. Confusing, and normal. 

However many children we have, and whatever age they are, each child and each new stage will bring something new for us to learn. It will always be this way. Our children will each do life differently, and along the way we will need to adapt and bend ourselves around their path to light their way as best we can. But we won't do this perfectly, because we can't always know what mountains they'll need to climb, or what dragons they'll need to slay. We won't always know what they’ll need, and we won't always be able to give it. We don't need to. But we'll want to. Sometimes we’ll ache because of this and we’ll blame ourselves for not being ‘enough’. Sometimes we won't. This is the vulnerability that comes with parenting. 

We love them so much, and that never changes, but the way we feel about parenting might change a thousand times before breakfast. Parenting is tough. It's worth every second - every second - but it's tough. Great parents can feel everything, and sometimes it can turn from moment to moment - loving, furious, resentful, compassionate, gentle, tough, joyful, selfish, confused and wise - all of it. Great parents can feel all of it.

Because parenting is pure joy, but not always. We are strong, nurturing, selfless, loving, but not always. Parents aren't perfect. Love isn't perfect. And it was meant to be. We’re raising humans - real ones, with feelings, who don't need to be perfect, and wont  need others to be perfect. Humans who can be kind to others, and to themselves first. But they will learn this from us. Parenting is the role which needs us to be our most human, beautifully imperfect, flawed, vulnerable selves. Let's not judge ourselves for our shortcomings and the imperfections, and the necessary human-ness of us.❤️
The behaviour that comes with separation anxiety is the symptom not the problem. To strengthen children against separation anxiety, we have to respond at the source – the felt sense of separation from you.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person, there will be always be anxiety unless there is at least one of 2 things: attachment with another trusted, adult; or a felt sense of you holding on to them, even when you aren’t beside them. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it needs more than an adult being present. Just because there is another adult in the room, doesn’t mean your child will experience a deep sense of safety with that adult. This doesn’t mean the adult isn’t safe - it’s about what the brain perceives, and that brain is looking for a deep, felt sense of safety. This will come from the presence of an adult who, through their strong, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for them, and their joy in doing so. The joy in caretaking is important. It lets the child rest from seeking the adult’s care because there will be a sense that the adult wants it enough for both.

This can be helped along by showing your young one that you trust the adult to love and care for your child and keep him or her safe in your absence: ‘I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.’ This doesn’t mean children will instantly feel the attachment, but the path towards that will be more illuminated.

To help them feel you holding on even when you aren’t with them, let them know you’ll be thinking of them and can’t wait to be with them again. I used to tell my daughter that every 15 seconds, my mind makes sure it knows where she is. Think of this as ‘taking over’ their worry. ‘You don’t have to worry about you or me because I’m taking care of both of us – every 15 seconds.’ This might also look like giving them something of yours to hold on to while you’re gone – a scarf, a note. You will always be their favourite way to safety, but you can’t be everywhere. Another loving adult or the felt presence of you will help them rest.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say or whether to say anything at all. It doesn’t matter if the ‘right’ words aren’t there, because often there no right words. There are also no wrong ones. Often it’s not even about the words. Your presence, your attention, the sound of your voice - they all help to soften the hard edges of the world. Humans have been talking for as long as we’ve had heartbeats and there’s a reason for this. Talking heals. 

It helps to connect the emotional right brain with the logical left. This gives context and shape to feelings and helps them feel contained, which lets those feelings soften. 

You don’t need to fix anything and you don’t need to have all the answers. Even if the words land differently to the way you expected, you can clean it up once it’s out there. What’s important is opening the space for conversation, which opens the way to you. Try, ‘I’m wondering how you’re doing with everything. Would you like to talk?’ 

And let them take the lead. Some days they’ll want to talk about ‘it’ and some days they’ll want to talk about anything but. Whether it’s to distract from the mess of it all or to go deeper into it so they can carve their way through the feeling to the calm on the other side, healing will come. So ask, ‘Do you want to talk about ‘it’ or do you want to talk about something else? Because I’m here for both.’ ♥️
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