Let me start with an extremely important statement:
What you will learn here, is exclusively connected to COMMUNICATIVE CHARISMA. That means the part of Charisma that you use like a communication tool when you need it, the part which I call “THE MEETING ROOM” in the Charisma Concept. Because it IS about connecting with people, about meeting people.
Also, “kick-starting” your communicative charisma is a result of training BEFORE the moment when you need it. This article is about the things you should do in order to be ready to “kick-start”.
Science shows the basic characteristics of a charismatic person are Warmth, Presence and Power and it can be measured.
- Warmth: charismatic people are approachable; they seem to invite others to get in contact with them.
- Presence: If you are with a charismatic person, you seem to have all his/her attention. Nothing else matters.
- Power: a charismatic person gives the impression that she/he CAN do it. Whatever you talk about you are certain that he/she has the power to push things through.
Warmth, Presence and Power manifest themselves physically, which gives us the chance to display them on purpose.
Now it is even more obvious why Hillary Clinton is not perceived as a charismatic person: she has some kind of power but she lacks warmth and presence. In the Analysis of the first Presidential Debate, I have shown clearly what behaviors have counteracted to create a charismatic impression:
- her movements were stiff and disconnected from her words,
- her chin was too high to allow connection to others on an equal level
- her eyes were wandering and she was unable to hold contact with anybody for more than a split second
But when even somebody as well prepared as Hillary Clinton cannot do it – how should you be able to show Charisma?
Well, because it all starts with a firm decision. It is a DECISION TO CONNECT.
- It is so much easier to hide behind a wall of expertise and perfect preparation. It is so much more difficult to open up and become approachable because there is always the danger of failure: Will you be able to remember what you have prepared? Will you be able to show all your competence?
- And it is also so much easier to hide and remain invisible, trying to escape that way the threat of being discovered as not perfect, as not prepared, as not adequate.
BEING CHARISMATIC IS A DECISION
Wanting or not, Charisma starts with your DECISION. With your decision to let go of fear of failure. If you have made this decision, let your body do the rest:
There are three parts of your body involved:
- Your spine
- Your chin
- Your eyes
1st STEP: HOME-TRAINING
Take these steps one after the other. Read the instructions, and then try them out. Get in front of a mirror to check.
THE CHARISMATIC POSTURE
Charisma is the expression of energy flowing freely through your body. You are erect but relaxed. Your muscles are ready to respond spontanously. (See picture)
How to find that posture, step by step:
- Let you should fall down
- Feel your arms hanging heavily by your side
- Let your chin sink towards your chest
- Feel your whole body weight flowing down towards the ground
- Feel all tension flow out of your body AND (!) feel at the same time that you are unable to act out of this position
- Check in the mirror how you stand (from the side you can see it better)
- Keep that posture for a minute – until you feel your weight and the absolute lack of power to move
You ask yourself why you should get into a position that is the full contrary to a charismatic appearance? Because you need to feel the difference and if you want to turn your Charisma “on” you also need to be able to turn it off.
- Turn to the mirror to be able to see yourself from the front
- Now slowly straighten yourself, feel your spine moving up towards the ceiling
- Pull your shoulders softly back
- Feel your head moving up as if you had a thread pulling it towards the ceiling
- Stop when you are able to look into eyes. Directly.
- Turn to the side and check the position of your head in relation to your neck. Your chin and your neck should form a right angle.
- Keep that position and try to feel your body:
- your feet, as they stand firmly on the ground,
- your legs, as they hold your body up,
- your bottom how it holds the weight of your upper-body
- your arms how the fall freely from your shoulders
- and finally your head that is kept in that right angle to your spine and neck – and you can ascertain yourself of that position by looking straight into your eyes
- Now walk up and down in front of the mirror.
- Chose a natural pace – not to quick, not slow, feel what is comfortable to you. You pulse must not speed up nor become slower
- Make sure to keep your posture
- feel your arms swinging naturally with your pace. ATTENTION: DO NOT MOVE THEM ON PURPOSE! It would mean to walk around like Hillary Clinton walking on stage: clumsy, arms being moved by moving shoulders back and forth, not swinging freely. If you want to give it a bit more energy, make sure to move your arms form the ellbow down, not from the shoulders!
- keep walking until it feels natural to you
THE CHARISMATIC EYE-CONTACT
You remember: a charismatic person shows warmth and dedication. When your posture (and therefore also your chin!) is in the correct position to MEET another person at eye-level, then… go on and intentionally meet them with your eyes at the same level (you see how intelligent our language is!)
- Still standing in front of the mirror try to give you a look of true appreciation.
- See how your expression changes by thinking the following. The important words are in bold letters:
- Think: It is so nice to meet you! ( J )
- Think: I am so interested in your opinion!
- Think: I am so interested in getting to know you!
- Think: You have done a wonderful job!
- Think: You look great!
Do you notice that the bold words are no “action-verbs” but adjectives?
The reason is that in order to become charismatic we need to get in touch with our emotions. DOING stands very often in way of FEELING. To engage in activity is the simplest way to escape from showing feelings. But well, that is the decision you have taken at the beginning: you want to connect to people, ergo you need to show them who you are.
2nd STEP: FIELD TRAINING
Part 1: On the street
Now go out and try it in real life situations. The best is to be outside, on the street, not in an office-space. Very often, the spaces around us restrict our actions. Being charismatic means: not feeling restrictions but acting freely and spontaneously:
- Walk down the street
- feel your body moving
- feel that invisible thread pulling you softly towards the sky
- at a cross light: feel yourself standing – feet on the ground, spine erect through that thread pulling you up
- try to catch the eye of a person standing on the other side
- hold that look for a second
Remember: “warmth, power and presence” are the result of confidence in personal interactions with people. Who gives the impression that he/she holds something back or is anxious, can never be charismatic.
This is why it is so extremely important to exercise yourself in that SELF-CONFIDENT and RELAXED posture and stride. It has direct influence on your psyche. It calms you down and puts you in the position to become aware of what is going on around you – which is the precondition to being able to truly connect with others.
Part 2: Interacting with people
You are up to meet a person:
- walk up with your “new” posture
- look the person straight into the eyes and THINK: it is great to meet you! (or whatever message you like best) – ATTENTION! If you don’t think nicely, your look will be hard, distanced, not inviting!!! Your eyes ALWAYS TRANSMIT THE MESSAGE!!!
- STRECH OUT your hand
- MAINTAIN YOUR ERECT POSTURE (don’t bow while greeting!!)
- Slightly incline your head: in combination with an erect posture and a straight, warm look, you make the impression of a self-confident, relaxed, not aggressive person.
This post is also available in: German