Sunday, November 6, 2011

Charisma: Nature or Nurture

This photo is of my friend Pam and I at a Fitness conference in 2009. She is one of the most charismatic people I know! Strangely enough charisma's origin is in Greek and she is Greek :)

Have you ever met someone and instantly took a liking towards them? You can’t explain why, but you feel a fondness and being with them makes you feel better about yourself. I am very interested in people that have a strong sense of presence. The kind of people that can light up a room and command respect with their quiet confidence. There is a natural magnetism toward charismatic people and I want to know why.
So I'm sure your wondering why the interest and questions about charisma??? Well, I have been brain storming and working on ideas to start my own small business here in the Netherlands and have been doing research on what makes some small businesses more successful then others. I have been looking at businesses that essentially offer the same services but have very different outcomes. I think a lot of it comes down to charisma of the owner/ employees and connecting with people in the community. So my big question is are these charismatic people born this way or have they fostered it's development? Can we, the less charismatic, become more charismatic?

Through personal social research some of the key characteristics of charismatic people that I have identified are;

1) They smile a lot. The charismatic people that I have met smile a lot. Not in a creepy and excessive way but more in a positive and enthusiastic way. Emotions are contagious so a smile can go a long way. I definitely think that charismatic people have an authenticity in their smile but starting to smile more is an easy behaviour change to make. I have been pleasantly surprised by the response I have received to my smiling.

2) They are interested, open and curious. The most charismatic people are genuinely interested in others. In conversation they tend to ask more questions then they answer. They are great listeners who make others feel comfortable sharing without fear of judgement. There is a curiosity about them and a desire to learn and know more and they view every interaction as an opportunity to do just this.

3) They are fully present. Being present creates an intense focus and a feeling of being centered that is palpable. People are not accustomed to interacting with people who are totally present and it makes them feel special. They are more likely to share and open up. Have you ever really observed Oprah in an interview. In a room full of people, on national tv with a million potential distractions she is fully present. It's as if no one else and nothing else exists when she is interviewing.

4) They are confident. There is a quiet confidence about charismatic people. This confidence is very different then arrogance. Their confidence is on a deeper and more fundamental level and has come with experience from facing fears. They succeed and are confident because they have failed over and over.

5) They are assertive. Often times we think if we are "nice" and go out of our way for people they will like and appreciate us. They may in fact like you but the better question is will they respect and be drawn to you? People who are assertive with clear boundaries and expectations of how people should treat and interact with them are much more successful in relationships then the "nice guy/ girl".

6) They are amused. I know this sounds kind of funny but they don't seem to take things too seriously. They are relaxed and having fun and there is a lightness about them. They recognize what is important and what is not. What they have control over and what they don't. They have a good sense of humour about life.

7) They are socially free and authentic. When you are overly concerned about what other people may think then you often act in reaction to what you think they might say or do. When you are in this frame of thought you can not not be your most genuine and authentic self.

In conclusion, I think charisma can be defined as being along a continuum. I think the potential to be charismatic is within all of us. In my opinion charisma is a product of environment and being exposed to situations that allow it to further develop. Some of us may require a more focused and diligent effort at developing our own charisma but it is definitely possible. I think there are things we can work on every day. Today, in my yoga class I will work on being present :)

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