Some people just ooze charisma. They’re the kind of people who are intrepid leaders and legendary lovers. Wherever they go, they’re the centre of attention. Hugely successful and highly memorable, they’re the true movers and shakers of society, the kind of people who ride recessions with ease; who make the most of even the toughest situation. Joanna Kozubska says we could all be like them. The author of The 7 Keys of Charisma (Kogan Page) insists that charisma isn’t a god-given gift, bestowed on the lucky few; it’s something we can all develop.
Kozubska is a professor of managerial communications who conducted painstaking research to find out precisely what makes one person charismatic – and another a dead bore. She discovered there were seven keys to charisma. Seven vital steps which could turn you into a business magnate or a red-hot lover. Seven steps to finding yourself the centre of attention, the life and soul of the party. Here, she says, is how to do it….
KEY ONE: THE CONFIDENCE KEY
Charismatic people all have an absolute confidence in their own abilities. They’re the kind of people who would ask a complete stranger out on a date; who would dare to start up a business that everyone else thinks is crazy. They are the first on the dance-floor and the last to leave. They absolutely refuse to think a negative thought and have the courage to take risks. Most of all they are totally in love with life, with who they are and what they do – they make no apology for it.
• Dare to take risks. Find the courage to “have a go”. Push yourself just that little bit further than you would usually go.
• Accept that you will have failures; that you will make mistakes. Don’t ever think you can’t try something for fear of failure. When you do make mistakes, learn from them – don’t ever be crushed by them. People with charisma often fail on their way to success.
• “See” your success by visioning – imagine yourself behaving the way you want; achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. Rehearse how you would feel, that warm satisfying glow. Then do it.
KEY TWO: THE VISION KEY
Everyone with charisma has a clear vision of what they want from life. They could tell you what they want to be doing and where they want to be five, ten, twenty years down the line. It could be a vision of a happy family, living comfortably and contentedly; it might be heading a hugely successful international corporation. It might be achieving some sporting or artistic goal. Whatever it is, they are totally certain of the path they want to take.
• Write your own obituary. What would you want said about you after your death? If you know what you want to have achieved by the end of your life, then you will gain a good idea of what you ought to be doing in the here and now.
• Think about your values and beliefs. What do you consider your purpose in life? What values are important in your life? Everyone with charisma has a clear set of values and beliefs.
KEY THREE: THE COMMUNICATION KEY
Charismatics are usually born communicators. But they don’t just settle for their god-given gifts: they work at it. And it’s not just a case of speaking eloquently (though that helps); it’s also about listening and showing you care. People with charisma make you feel important because they give you their absolute attention. They also speak with enthusiasm – in their tone of voice, in their body language, in their words and gestures. Speaking with passion; listening with intense care – are quite irresistible.
• Watch your posture – keep upright, poised and yet open and expansive.
• When you’re talking to someone, really listen and show you care about their thoughts and feelings. There is nothing so charismatic than making people feel they’re wanted and interesting.
• Develop your intuition. Try to sense what other people want and need. Focus intently on them and be open to gut feelings. If you learn the knack you can respond to other people’s unspoken needs as if by magic.
• Keep a good sense of humour – all true charismatics have it.
KEY FOUR: THE STYLE KEY
Style describes the way we do things: our way of dressing; how we deal with people; the possessions we have; and the way we conduct ourselves. When our way of doing things is different – and superior – we are said to have style. Anyone with true charisma is always distinctive. Style requires being different, standing out from the crowd – and that is never easy.
• Choose your clothes with care – they should reflect your personal identity yet still leave you feeling comfortable in every situation. Experiment with clothes, make-up and hair until you find your “true” style. If you’re not sure, try having a makeover; find a good new hairdresser; get some advice from an in-store fashion adviser.
• Allow yourself to be creative in all areas of your life. Let yourself come up with endless ideas – they don’t all have to be good ones. Play with new ideas, strange thoughts, crazy concepts.
KEY FIVE: THE MOVING AND SHAKING KEY
People with charisma make things happen. They’re the ones at work who come up with the wildest, most creative new ideas. They’re the kind of lover who whisks you off on incredible surprise trips. They’re exciting and dynamic and packed full of energy. It’s not just physical energy – though they have that too – it’s an inner energy, a vital spark.
• Be passionate about everything you do. No one with charisma is ever half-hearted about anything: their job, their marriage, their kids. They put 150 percent into everything they choose to do.
• Get other people excited and eager to become part of your project, your life, your vision. Give them encouragement, praise and help wherever they need it.
• If you can’t be passionate about your life, then you need to think about changing it. That doesn’t mean throwing in your job, ending your relationship, selling the house – it could just mean finding a new way to look at your job, relationship, home. Don’t become set in your ways – find ways to change and grow.
KEY SIX: THE VISIBILITY KEY
If you want to be charismatic you have to be prepared to stand up and be counted; to put your head over the parapet; to be visible. Charismatics can be modest but they are absolutely never shrinking violets. You have to get out there in the limelight. That could mean developing a novel and distinctive style; it could mean speaking out with strong views; it might even involve being considered a bit of a “crank”. You have to blow your own trumpet a bit and be a good self-publicist.
• Have the courage to speak the truth as you see it. Hold fast to your views, even if they are not popular. Dare to be different.
• Push yourself to the front – seek visibility and dare to take the consequences.
• However always treat others with respect, courtesy and care.
KEY SEVEN: THE MYSTERIOUS AND ENIGMATIC KEY
People with charisma are never boring. On the contrary, they are energetic and intriguing and you always want to know more about them. Part of the excitement comes from an aura of mystery and enigma. However it’s a fine line. If you’re too enigmatic you are just seen as secretive and lacking in warmth. If you’re not enigmatic enough, you’re an open book with no secrets or, even worse, a complete bore. The key is to retain just enough enigma to intrigue.
• Don’t be too familiar. Some things should be kept to yourself. Keep your diary private; don’t describe every facet of your day on Twitter; don’t post selfies every five minutes on Instagram. Have some secrets..
• Listen twice as much as you speak. Encouraging the other person to speak not only makes them feel wanted and liked, but also keeps your mystique intact. Boring someone rigid with your life story and every personal detail is the death of charisma.
A version of this first appeared in the Daily Mail.