What is charisma?
I am interested in people that have a strong sense of presence, you know, the kind that can light up a room or immediately command respect. Charisma can be used for good or evil - but where does it come from and can it be cultivated or learned?
One theory I read recently in a book by Napoleon Hill was that charisma is a type of subconscious emmanation closely related to sexual energy. Ghandi for example, took up abstinence and channelled that energy into bringing down the British Empire and freeing India. Hitler is also said to have been medically impotent and this frustration was the root of his influence.
Part of it can be attributed to sexuality. Most of the people described as the top influential of the last century have been described as 'oversexed' with the rest being made up of those who were either abstinent or impotent. JFK and and Churchill are prime examples of those on the promiscous side of the spectrum.
That isn't all there is to charisma, though, and having a high charisma can be learned.
The key is to overcome fear.
Funny you mention Hill. In his 'Your Right To Be Rich' he states that "personal magnetism" (direct synonym of charisma, in my mind) is "...an inborn trait..." the only one of the 25 traits of a pleasing personality that "cannot be cultivated, but it can be controled and directed to benefitial uses."
Hill also mentions a "reference to the sexy motion" when discussing this, though I don't quite get the link. In Think and Grow Rich, he talks about sex transmutation which is transferring sexual energy into other things as Ghandi or Hitler may have, but I don't understand what that has to do with the trait of Charisma specifically.
Anyway... just thought I'd share. I'm not sure what my own personal opinion on charisma is. Just that I wish I had more of it! :D
i think charisma is just being open to the moment currently unfolding, paying attention to what the person talking to you is saying, and going with it.
if your answer to life is 'yes,' then people are going to want to be around you. the 'yes' is what lights up the room, and gets other people to want to say 'yes,' too.
Don't underestimate the power of body language. I don't recall the exact breakdown, but more than 50% of communicatoin is through body language. Charismatic people often share certain body language, including walking tall and with spine straight and using open gestures (not folding arms/legs, etc). For most people, their body language reflects how they're feeling inside, but your feelings and your body language are very closely tied. That means that if you adopt a closed poster (legs crossed, back bent and arms crossed), you'll start feeling more closed. An open, strong posture can make you feel better and more confident.
Charisma has three parts:
1) Having a very strong, unique and interesting identity that is easily conveyed to other people with little explanation.
2) Being able to connect this identity with the identity of whoever you meet.
3) Having the excellent social skills to do this subtly and efficiently.
If you want an analogy, #1 is like having an excellent and unique product. #2 is being able to market that product to everyone in ways they understand and appreciate. #3 is appropriately using the mediums of communication to transmit this marketing.
That is charisma.
Don't forget attractiveness. "Atractive" people (physical beauty) are usually more charismatic and people tend to trust them more than less attractive people. Now by no means does that mean less attractive people can't be charismatic, actually, charisma is really pretty much attractiveness in a sense.
I know you can become more charismatic, I've done it. Now, maybe it's a natural thing you have, but you can learn to improve what you've got. A lot of people can make themselves look sooo much better if they put the effort and did the right things. Again, I've done that too with great results.
But I do have to say, it seems that some people just have that natural charisma that lets them get away with anything.
Barbara Parker, (Arnold Schwartzenegger's ex-girlfriend from long ago) says that he had this uncanny ability to instantly connect with anyone he chose at an intimate level. Many people who come into contact with him report feelings of awe, as though they are in the presence of someone different. This could be partially due to his fame, intimidating physique and wit; but maybe more so with his dyamic, growth oriented nature.
He says something about how as his body grew in size and power so did his spirit, that he started thinking about himself as a "big" person and that other people began treating him differently.
I do think communication skills are are the crux of charisma because people of low or average attractiveness can be considered highly charismatic - eg. Hitler, Churchill, Ghandi. It's the ability to connect combined with strong inner drive.
By comparison, those that are unpopular or uncharismatic might have their problems centred around a type of social misadjustment where they can't get others to feel what they are feeling and perhaps don't have the drive or interest to try?
I think confidence and body language speaks a lot in charisma.
Now my question is: compare charisma with X-factor?
Charismatic people get noticed through confidence, assertiveness, authority and presence. They are not arrogant at all but instead are noticed because the character of strength they project is directly attributive to their own unique inner character. If someone with a weak character tries to be charismatic they would more then likely fail as people would pick up on this congruency either sub-consciously or consciously and apply it to their mental framework i.e. they would treat the person as a weaker person opposed to the strong character they are projecting.
Just build up confidence and charisma will naturally follow. If you're living your life in purpose, in a job that inspires you to fulfill your passion and you have your sense of character, your emotions, your health and your wealth under control then people can't help but feel attracted to you.
it's very interesting ... because i would consider myself to be a pretty charismatic person -- lots of really lovely friends (real friends!), nice acquaintence, have been told i have great stage presence, etc. but in the past i have found it difficult to connect with people on a romantic/sexual level. i get a lot of "you are too much woman for me" etc. etc.
so, i dunno if personal charisma is directly connected to x-factor. it seems like most men have either wanted to be my friend, or have sex with me, but very few have been up for the (perceived) challenge of actually dating me. it's like they think they are going to drown in the madge or something.
seems kinda silly to me ... but if someone tells me that they arent up to the challenge (that challenge being me), then i pretty much have to accept that as the truth and just keep looking...
Not sure what you mean by "too much of a woman". They could be implying that you are too dominant and therefore out of sync with the average male, or perhaps you are simply dating guys that are not on the same wavelength as you. Or maybe you are unusually attractive and that could be intimidating to men who do not feel as attractive as you.
Here is another hint - talking a lot can make you the centre of attention and therefore popular in a group of people, but men hate it one on one with a woman.
I would suggest that true charisma is something like a radio frequency - everyone around them starts to vibrate in sync.
The most basic thing I can boil charisma down to is that charismatic persons are able to make a lot of people feel good... whether it be by entertaining, teaching, inspiring, leading, etc. Through the way charismatic people express themselves in the world, they are able to become symbols for hope, pride, freedom, confidence or other feel-good things already inside people, therefore, people like them and desire to be around them.
One way to become more charismatic? Think of the people who you label as charismatic, and observe the traits they have, but within yourself. You really are "projecting" those qualities onto them in the first place... you just need to ask and figure out how to connect to those traits and express them yourself.
As for the sexual energy, I can see that. Charismatic people are pretty sexy sometimes, despite their physical appearances. I guess, essentially, being charismatic clearly involves a lot of risk taking and "vitality" ... which I would say are pretty related to strong sexuality, it seems, at least in men.
Agree. There is a "presence" in charismatic people that makes them sexy. "Vitality" is right on. They have a confidence that draws others to them. Vitality and confidence create sex-appeal, even if the person is not "classically" sexy or beautiful. One person who comes to mind is Bill Clinton. Even though he's not the world's best looking guy, many women who have met him remark that his charisma makes him very appealing. Obviously, there's a Monica joke in there somewhere, but I hope to avoid it if at all possible. ;)
There was a study done on this, and the reports were published. BBC did an article on it: BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | A step-by-step guide to charisma
It's a good article, but I think is defining charisma as something close to popularity. I'm more interested in charisma as something like supernatural power or exceptional presence, that marks someone as being other than normal.
My ex-boss was a bit like this; he was a very tall and handsome man, self made millionaire/playboy and had an unusually strong presence. The way he lead his life (cocaine-feuled stripper orgies, week long parties etc) was pretty wild and hedonistic and a bit of a waste of talent in my opinion.
He had some unusual abilities also that were bordering on autism. For example, he could look at a screen full of figures and instantly pick out numerical mistakes without having any time to calculate anything. Also, when he was focusing on something it was impossible to attract his attention - you could yell in his ear and he couldn't hear you.
Another odd thing was his eyes - the best way that I could describe it was that you could not penetrate past his gaze to see the person within. It was like there was a subconscious wall between his soul and the outside world.
When he was at his best he was incredibly dynamic, confident and intelligent. At his worst he was manic/depressive, vain, arrogant, obsessed with sex and drugs and a fool.
Anyway, he lit up a room allright, it was like there was a mercurial quality within him that he could only half-control. Fascinating to watch.
Reminds me of this "So dark the con of man" - Da Vinci code
Yep he was interesting allright, he described himself as being incredibly lucky - he seemed to succeed unconsciously with virtually no work. So, you can see the elements there - Charisma related to good looks, a high level of sexual energy, unusual intelligence, confidence, focus and perhaps mental instability or unbalance. Churchill and JFK were also both drug fiends.
Tony Alessandra has an audio program, the ten qualities of charismatic people. I haven't listened to it yet myself but it might be worthwhile checking it out. I'll post a review when I listen to it.
Charisma to me is being genuinely genuine and warm. Interested in other people, but following your own path. It might seem overly basic, but I'd say that's the one trait shared by all charismatic people.
I feel I have become more what most people would call "charismatic" very recently after I have started to "live in the moment". I have found it easier to connect with people when my head is not filled with thoughts and worries. When you are just there, communicating with someone in the moment, truly looking at them and feeling their energy and who they are/you are below the ego... it's amazing. Instead of worrying about what they think of you, or what kind of impression you are making, you’re enjoying the communication for what it is.
The article focuses on the middle ground, but mentions the extremes (i.e. famously charismatic people). I would say it's important to be aware of that distinction because the extreme edge of charisma is unattainable for most people (if everyone were like that it would become the norm), so if someone wants to become charismatic they'd be more likely to see results if they focused on the kind of charisma that is more common. And then push for more :)
And how? *shrug* I'm too self-conscious to be considered charismatic...
Has anyone tried giving up all sexual experiences for a while and seeing what happens to their energy level or sense of charisma? I did it once for a month, came (pun) out of it with a sense of clarity and calm similar to that experienced during a fast. I'm not sure if I seemed more or less charismatic, but I had a stronger sense of grounding, confidence and purpose; I think I was generally nicer to people, saw their better qualities and had more energy generally to devote to things other than getting off.
Maybe that is why holy people in many religions proclaim abstinence - the sexual energy is re-directed into spritual power.
I have given up my sexual experiences, but not because of my will.
On the other hand, I think that charisma is people wanting to be you.
In order to have charisma, you have to develop an eating disorder. Sorry, I don't mean that. I just incorporated something I heard from a television far, far away. ANyway, charisma is really something to do with confidence and body language. I know of many people who speak well and use good body language and they are terrific speakers. Charisma is something that "can" be learned, but it's like timing...it takes a lifetime to master.
Do you wank?
Charisma is the ability to lead people to some destination (physically, ideologically or otherwise) and have them follow you enthusiastically.
If we look at History's greatest leaders there are characteristics that form a charismatic person:
- Bold(confident): Great leaders act opposing what most people fear and do it with a smile on thier faces. Jesus was not afraid to act against the pharisees, MLK was not afraid to speak against racism. Hitler was not afraid to act in the face of all Europe. Moses was not afraid of the Egyptian pharoh. Timothy Leary was not afraid of society itself. To be a great leader is to stand in the face of great risk and to continue to hold your stance.
- Mission(purpose): You must have a clearly defined goal that you are trying to reach. Your followers should either have a fairly good understanding of this goal or should trust you so much that they will follow you blindly.
- Persuasive: You must be an excellent speaker or have an excellent speaker to speak for you, you must be able to lead people into a stae of mind where they trust you and are excited about the direction you are leading them.
Nice Nelson, I like the way you break it down into facets of charisma.
It reminded me of Cialdini's book, Influence. Understanding the principles therein can really help you get the most out of people. Off the top of my head some of them are:
Social Proof (everyone else is doing it)
Appeal to their Ego
Reciprocity - If I give you something you feel compelled to give me back something.
I think there's six but that's all I'm remembering now.
As for developing charisma, I believe it can acheived by reducing energy wastage, like what some forumers had suggested:
abstinence - sexual acts expands energy.
living in the now, being aware - concern for self saps energy.
live a truthful life - strengthens the will which in turn draw in energy.
An easier way is to "steal" it from others by being in the center of attention - when you get attention, you get energy. That may explain why some not-so-bright politicians are quite charismatic.
In my experience, people who I have considered to be "charasmatic" had a way of making me feel like I was special, interesting, and that we connected with each other in a unique way, of course in truth they also connected like that with a lot of other people. They give the impression that they are fascinated by you (in a non-stalkerish way ;)). Because of this you just feel good in their company-- when they're around you feel like YOU have charisma.
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