How To Irresistibly Attract, Charm, and Influence the People Around You
The art of charisma — of attracting, charming, and influencing the people around you — is not pretending to be something you’re not, but fully expressing who you really are.
A moment’s vulnerability and authenticity are more powerful than an hour of flattery and false charm.
A few years ago, I went to a wedding where I heard one of the most captivating toasts I’ve ever heard. At first, I was stunned at how moving and charismatic the speaker was. He was impeccable, making us laugh, tear up, and nod in agreement. He had the audience hanging on his every word.
But halfway through, I began sensing a bit of disconnect around the room, a bit of unease. His speech seemed too rehearsed. His pauses, even stuttering over words, seemed more strategically planned than genuine. He was beginning to seem like a high-level salesman, not a real friend telling real stories.
You can always tell when someone isn’t being genuine. And once you do, you want to get away from this person as fast as possible, because in a way, they’re trying to trick you to feel something. No one likes being tricked.
The art of charisma — of truly charming and influencing people in a genuine, authentic way — isn’t easy, but it’s simple.
Once you begin mastering these fundamental virtues of charm, you can begin charming and influencing those around you, in a way that truly helps them and builds strong relationships.
The Fundamental Virtues of Being Charismatic
Contrary to popular belief, charisma and confidence is not an innate gift some people have and some people don’t. As motivational speaker David Schwartz once wrote about:
“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.”
Charisma is a result of living rightly, in alignment with your values and beliefs. Once you begin living in a way you know is right, it’ll become 10x easier to be funny, charming, and likable. People like people who like themselves.
Of course, you can be charismatic and live contrary to your beliefs — many people do, and have gone on to be sleazy salesmen, cult leaders, and gurus who prey on weak-minded individuals. But that always ends poorly.
Charisma is an inevitable trait of a person confident with their actions. A guilty conscience kills charisma. When you know what you’re doing is wrong, people can always see it in your eyes and actions; in fact, your mind sometimes even subconsciously sabotages your actions because deep down, you know it’s wrong.
However, when you know what you’re doing is good and right and true, it’s easy to be charming and attractive. It’s one thing to trick and seduce someone into liking you — it’s another thing to be genuinely interested in what someone has to say, using natural chemistry and letting them know they have your full attention.
A fundamental virtue of being charismatic is living in alignment with your values. Not being you will destroy you — being fully yourself allows you to create a deep connection with anyone.
You must live in alignment with your values. Otherwise, your “charisma” will actually just be flattery and false praise executed in a cheap fashion most people immediately will see through.
You Need to Give Someone Your Full Attention if You Want Any Hope of Truly Connecting With Them
I’ve been studying a lot of talk show hosts and hostesses, trying to figure out what makes them so likable, so charismatic. And I’ve noticed one critical habit they always seem to do:
They always give their full attention to the people they’re speaking with.
Most of us listen to other people simply with an intent to respond.
But extraordinary charismatic people listen to someone so attentively, the jokes and camaraderie simply come naturally.
I love this interview between Craig Ferguson and Robin Williams. You can’t help but like Ferguson, because his jokes and riffing with Robin Williams are so genuine and so obviously-not-fake. They’re riffing with each, freely flowing with each other in conversation. Look:
You can’t reach this level of connection with someone if you’re too busy trying to think of how to respond.
If you give someone your full attention, the right topics, timing, and remarks will simply come to you. In sports, this is called “being in the zone,” a state of mental focus so intense that things seem to move in slow motion, and everything you do seems to flow as smoothly and easily as a gentle ocean wave.
You need to start giving people your full attention. It also has the double benefit of being exceedingly rare — again, most people don’t take the time to truly listen, they’re too busy thinking of their response. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote:
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.
Doing this creates lasting mental impressions for both of you, allowing riffing, inside jokes, callbacks, and references that no one else could make with this person.
This strengthens the relationship more, because it shows proof you’re listening.
And people want to be around people that listen to them.
Want More People To Like You? Spend More Time Doing Interesting Things.
This is gonna sound stupid:
The more interesting you are, the more people will like you.
I know. It’s like saying water’s wet. Duh.
But if you want to be more interesting, you have to do more interesting things. The more you do, the more you’ll be able to connect with people in a variety of powerful ways.
I like trying lots of different things. My wife jokes I do things in “phases” — I’m completely obsessed with something, then I completely move on to the next thing. Some of the more interesting things I’ve done:
- Reeled in, killed, and ate a large tuna on a tuna boat
- Got in the top 1% in the world for a video game (Super Smash Brothers Ultimate)
- Become a Certified Beer Server (it’s a thing, look it up!)
- Got a masters degree
- Became proficient in most popular sports
- Was club president for a Christian organization at my college
- Traveled the world
- Started a podcast
- Wrote a book
I am enormously privileged to have been able to do these things. Perhaps you’re not able to spend a ton of time doing expensive, random things.
That’s OK. It’s not about spending a lot of money or time doing crazy new things, it’s about experiencing different parts of life that connect you with all kinds of people. Do what you can — expand your knowledge and talking points so you can connect with more people about more things.
I can pretty much talk with anyone now. I told my wife it’s nice to be able to connect with so many different people on different levels — I can have deep conversations about faith, politics, alcohol, sports, video games, traveling, food, entrepreneurship, fishing, religion, whatever.
Interesting people have done interesting things. The more you have to talk about, the better chance you’ll be able to deeply connect with someone about things they love.
You Can Beat Every Pick-Up Artist, Conference Networker, and Salesperson By Being Authentic and Vulnerable
Years ago, I was working for a university. It was my job was to convince employers to hire our students. I went to countless happy hours, conferences, and networking events.
…I wasn’t that successful.
Looking back, it’s funny to realize how clueless I was about why no one seemed to want to talk with me — I was fake! I wore a plastic smile. I made too much eye contact. I (appeared!) wildly interested in whatever people were saying, even if it was the most boring topic in the world to me. I was the perfect “active listener”…but I never really listened.
I’d leave every event with my pockets stuffed with business cards. But no one wanted to do business with me.
My boss, on the other hand, was incredible. Everyone seemed to love her. Most people already seemed to know her, and those that didn’t wanted to meet her. She was what I was not: authentic and real. And I’ve learned an important lesson from her:
You can beat the most talented, high-level “salesmen” by simply being yourself.
No one likes being tricked, to realize the person in front of them is simply using them for some ulterior motive.
Focus on being yourself. Say what you mean. Don’t be fake, like I was. Towards the tail end of my job, I finally started to get the hang of it. “Honestly…I don’t really like these networking events,” I admitted to someone one time. “I feel like I never get to know anybody. It all seems to fake to me.”
I remember the other person’s eyes light up, and look right at me. “Oh my gosh…I totally agree,” she said. Then, we had a real conversation. I remember talking to her weeks later about hiring some of our students.
Don’t pretend to be something. Just be you, and you’ll connect with people a lot easier.
Most people who try to be charming and influential come off as fake and superficial. The art of charisma isn’t about tricking people into liking you, it’s about being fully yourself.
Being yourself is hard. Most people are too busy trying to be someone else. But trying to get people to like you only makes you come across as fake, even desperate.
If you want to be truly charming, attractive, and influential to the people around you, start being yourself. Be present. Give people your full attention, and be as authentic as possible.
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