Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!

  • Charismatic can be broken down into three core elements: presence, power, and warmth.

  • Presence is a learnable skill. Like any other ability (from painting to playing the piano), you can increase it with practice and patience. Being present means simply having a moment-to-moment awareness of what’s happening. It means paying attention to what’s going on rather than being caught up in your own thoughts.

  • Being charismatic does not depend on how much time you have but on how fully present you are in each interaction. The ability to be fully present makes you stand out from the crowd; it makes you memorable. When you’re fully present, even a five-minute conversation can create a “wow” effect, as well as an emotional connection. The people you’re with feel that they have your full attention and that they are the most important thing in the world to you at that moment.

  • Throughout our interactions, we instinctively look for clues with which to evaluate warmth or power, and then we adjust our assumptions accordingly. Expensive clothing leads us to assume wealth, friendly body language leads us to assume good intentions, a confident posture leads us to assume the person has something to be confident about. In essence, people will tend to accept whatever you project.

  • Because what’s in your mind shows up in your body and because people will catch even the briefest micro expression, to be effective, charismatic behaviors must originate in your mind.

  • Charisma has three essential components: presence, power, and warmth.

  • Being present—paying attention to what’s going on rather than being caught up in your thoughts—can yield immense rewards. When you exhibit presence, those around you feel listened to, respected, and valued. Because your body language telegraphs your internal state to those around you, in order to be charismatic—to exhibit presence, power, and warmth—you must display charismatic body language. Because your mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, by creating a charismatic internal state your body language will authentically display charisma. In terms of achieving charisma, your internal state is critical. Get the internal state right, and the right charismatic behaviors and body language will pour forth automatically.

  • Any internal discomfort—either physical or mental—can impair how you feel, how you perform, and how others perceive you. Physical tension caused by something as simple as the sun in your eyes produces the same changes in body language as a more serious discomfort, like anxiety or irritation. Prevention is optimal: plan ahead to ensure comfort in clothing, location, and timing. Aim to stay aware of any physical sensation of discomfort. If physical discomfort arises during an interaction, act promptly to alleviate or explain it. Use techniques such as the responsibility transfer to reduce the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and dissatisfaction that play out in your body language and inhibit your charisma. Understand that mental negativity such as anxiety, dissatisfaction, self-criticism, or self-doubt is normal and something that everyone experiences.

  • Think of one person in your life who has aggrieved you. Take a blank page and write that person a letter saying anything and everything you wish you had ever told them. Really get into this—you have nothing to lose. Make sure you write it out by hand. When you’ve gotten absolutely everything off your mind and onto paper, put the letter aside. Take a fresh sheet and write their response just the way you wish they would respond. You might have them taking responsibility for their actions, acknowledging and apologizing for everything they’ve ever done that hurt you. You don’t need to find any justification for their actions, just an acknowledgment and an apology. It’s your imagination, so you get to decide exactly what you’d like to hear.

  • Michael felt certain that something had gone wrong. But rather than reaching for the phone with dread filling his mind and affecting his voice, he stopped. You know how to handle this, he reassured himself. Then he followed this checklist: Take a deep breath and shake out your body to ensure that no physical discomfort is adding to your tense mental state. Dedramatize. Remind yourself that these are just physical sensations. Right now, nothing serious is actually happening. This only feels uncomfortable because of the way your brain is wired. Zoom out your focus to see yourself as one little person sitting in a room with certain chemicals flooding his system. Nothing more. Destigmatize. Remind yourself that what you’re experiencing is normal and everyone goes through it from time to time. Imagine countless people all over the world feeling the exact same thing. Neutralize. Remind yourself that thoughts are not necessarily real. There have been many times when you’ve been certain that a client was disappointed, only to discover that the exact opposite was true. Consider a few alternate realities. Michael considered: Maybe the tension in John’s voice had nothing to do with me. Maybe he felt harried because he’s running late on that project he mentioned last week. Maybe he fears that I might terminate our engagement. Maybe he’s worried that he’s not as important to me as my other clients. Maybe he’s afraid of losing me. Visualize a transfer of responsibility. Feel the weight of responsibility for the outcome of this situation lifting off your shoulders. Tell yourself it’s all taken care of. As Michael went through the checklist, putting each of the techniques to good use, he felt his tension gradually ease. Going through this sequence helped him put his initial pessimistic prediction into perspective as just one of many possible explanations for the tone of John’s message. With a newfound calm, Michael picked up the phone ready to talk to his client with charismatic confidence.

  • The ability to handle discomfort is a highly valuable skill. The less discomfort affects you, the fewer the situations that can impair your charisma potential. When you know how to handle discomfort, no situation can shake you; whether business or personal, there is no feeling that can make you run away.

  • To be charismatic, you must first learn to overcome the primary obstacle to charisma: internal discomfort. Skillfully handle internal discomfort with a three-step process: destigmatize your discomfort, neutralize your negative thoughts, and rewrite your perception of reality. Destigmatize and dedramatize uncomfortable feelings by remembering that they are survival instincts and a natural part of the human experience. Think of others who’ve gone through this before—especially people you admire—and see yourself as part of a community of human beings experiencing the same feeling at the same moment. Neutralize unhelpful negative thoughts by remembering that the mind often distorts reality and filters your environment to highlight the negative. Think of your negative thoughts as graffiti on a wall—you may find it an ugly sight, but just because you see an ugly sight doesn’t mean you’re an ugly person. Rewrite reality by considering a few helpful alternatives to your current perspective. For maximum effect, write down your new realities by hand and describe them in vivid detail. For advanced practice, delve into the physical sensations of discomfort. Focusing on the sensations gives your mind something concrete to focus on, drawing your attention away from your feeling that the experience is unbearable.

  • Try out the following postures to see for yourself just how powerfully the arrangement of your body can affect your mind and your feelings. First, adopt the body language of someone who’s utterly depressed. Let your shoulders slump, your head hang, your face sag. Now, without moving a muscle, try to feel really, truly excited. Go ahead, try to see if you can create any excitement without moving. It’s nearly impossible. Now do the opposite. Physically spring into excitement. Jump up and down as if you’ve won the lottery, smile the biggest smile you can, wave your arms in the air, and while doing all this, try to feel depressed. Again, it’s nearly impossible. Here are a few more physiological changes to play with: For confidence, assertiveness, and to be able to emanate gravitas, imagine playing the role of a military general—take a wide stance, puff up your chest, broaden your shoulders, stand straight, and confidently put your arms behind your back. Feel the effect of this posture internally. For a boost in both energy and warmth, stand up, stretch your hands as high up as possible, inhale as much as you can—imagine your rib cage expanding, doubling in size—make the biggest smile you can and look upward, hold for a second, and then relax everything. You can use these quick tools in pretty much any situation—anytime you’d like an internal-state change, whether just before an important business meeting or a social gathering.

  • When warming up for an important event, follow this checklist to prepare your internal state and maximize your charisma: Go over your schedule for the hours leading up to the event. Think about how the activities and meetings you have planned will affect you. If you can, avoid any difficult encounters and aim for confidence- or warmth-boosting experiences instead. Create your own music playlist for the internal state you’d like to have. You could make one for energy and confidence, one that makes you feel warm and empathetic, and another that makes you feel calm and serene. This exercise is a lot of fun in itself, and you can add new songs as often as you’d like.

  • Creating an optimal mental state is crucial to unleashing your full charisma potential. Visualization can help you create the right mental state and thus the right charismatic body language. To make visualizations most effective, vividly engage all five senses in your imagination. You can increase both warmth and confidence by practicing gratitude, goodwill, and compassion for others as well as for yourself. Just as professional athletes and performers do, plan a gradual warm-up to reach your peak charismatic performance. Before important events, avoid experiences that would impair your mental state and plan warmth- and confidence-boosting activities instead. Your body affects your mind. Flip the visualization technique on its head and practice adopting the right posture and facial expressions to access more of almost any desired internal state.

  • Just as there are different leadership and personality styles, there are also different charisma styles.

    • Focus charisma is primarily based on a perception of presence. It gives people the feeling that you are fully present with them, listening to them and absorbing what they say. Focus charisma makes people feel heard, listened to, and understood. Don’t underestimate this kind of charisma; it can be surprisingly powerful. Jack Keeler, former president of IBM, was known as a very charismatic figure who embodied another key component of focus charisma: the ability to communicate respect. Remember that one of the foundations of charisma is making other people feel good about themselves. Keeler knew how to make others feel that their opinions mattered, and that they were important.

    • Visionary charisma makes others feel inspired; it makes us believe. It can be remarkably effective even though it won’t necessarily make people like you. Steve Jobs was notoriously feared inside Apple and had many detractors both within and without, but even these detractors readily admitted to his being both visionary and charismatic.Why is visionary charisma so effective and powerful? Because of our natural discomfort with uncertainty. In a constantly changing world, we crave something solid to cling to.

    • Kindness charisma is primarily based on warmth. It connects with people’s hearts, and makes them feel welcomed, cherished, embraced, and, most of all, completely accepted.

    • Authority charisma is to project power by displaying signs of status and confidence.

  • CEOs as well as human resource professionals will often admit that they decide whether they’ll hire a job applicant within the first few seconds of the interview. As one senior executive once told me, “The rest of the interview is just window dressing.”

  • First impressions happen within seconds and can affect not only the rest of the interaction but also the rest of your relationship with that person. People feel most comfortable with those who are similar to them in some way, including appearance and behavior. Do your homework and decide how much you want to adapt your dress and word choice to your environment. A good handshake can go a long way. Likewise, a bad one can leave an unfavorable and lasting first impression. It’s worth spending some time perfecting the right way to greet someone. Great conversationalists keep the spotlight on the other person and make them feel good about themselves. Know how to gracefully exit a conversation, leaving others with positive feelings.

  • Three keys to communicating presence: attentive listening, refraining from interrupting, and deliberate pausing. Listening comes first and foremost, because listening lays the groundwork for the presence that is fundamental to charisma. John F. Kennedy was known as a “superb listener” who made others feel like he was “with them completely.” Great listening skills helped him pay extremely close attention to the feelings of whomever he was interacting with, enabling him to establish rapport on a very deep, emotional level.1 I’m sure you know that listening is important. But did you know that just a few tweaks can bring. Good listeners know never, ever to interrupt—not even if the impulse to do so comes from excitement about something the other person just said. Great listeners know to let others interrupt them.In fact, if you notice the other person repeatedly agitating to speak, keep your sentences short and leave frequent pauses for them to jump in. People really do love to hear. Master listeners know one extra trick, one simple but extraordinarily effective habit that will make people feel truly listened to and understood: they pause before they answer.

  • For most charisma, but especially kindness charisma, it’s critical to make others feel good about themselves.

  • To be charismatic, you need to create strong positive associations and avoid creating negative ones.

  • Visionary charismatics make full use of the power of images. When you craft your images and metaphors, try to make them sensory-rich: involve as many of the five senses as possible.

  • The guidelines below will help you broadcast power through your voice. Speak slowly. Visualize the contrast between a nervous, squeaky teenager speaking at high speed and the slow, emphatic tone of a judge delivering a verdict. Pause. People who broadcast confidence often pause while speaking. They will pause for a second or two between sentences or even in the middle of a sentence. This conveys the feeling that they’re so confident in their power, they trust that people won’t interrupt. Drop intonation. You know how a voice rises at the end of a question? Just reread the last sentence and hear your voice go up at the end. Now imagine an assertion: a judge saying “This case is closed.” Feel how the intonation of the word closed drops. Lowering the intonation of your voice at the end of a sentence broadcasts power. When you want to sound superconfident, you can even lower your intonation midsentence. Check your breathing. Make sure you’re breathing deeply into your belly and inhale and exhale through your nose rather than your mouth. Breathing through your mouth can make you sound breathless and anxious.

  • Power, presence, and warmth are important for both charismatic speaking and charismatic listening. Great listening skills are key to communicating charismatic presence. Never interrupt people, and occasionally pause a second or two before you answer. People associate you with the feelings you produce in them. Avoid creating negative associations: don’t make them feel bad or wrong. Make people feel good, especially about themselves. Don’t try to impress them—let them impress you, and they will love you for it. Get graphic: use pictures, metaphors, and sensory-rich language to convey a compelling, charismatic message. Use as few words as possible, and deliver as much value as possible: entertainment, information, or good feelings. To emanate vocal power, use a slow, measured tempo; insert pauses between your sentences; and drop your intonation at the end. To emanate vocal warmth, you need to do only one thing: smile, or even just imagine smiling.

  • Mirroring someone’s body language is often enough to achieve rapport and sometimes enough to bring them around to your point of view. Mirroring is also one of the few techniques that can help overcome a bad first impression.

  • Mirror-then-lead is a smart strategy when the person you’re interacting with needs reassurance—when they’re feeling nervous or timid, anxious or awkward, stiff or withdrawn. With any of these emotional states, mirror them to establish comfort and rapport, and then gradually draw them out. In these situations, it’s not a good idea to try to influence their body language too forcefully.

  • Good eye contact is incredibly important. Profound eye contact can have a powerful impact on people; it can communicate empathy and give an impression of thoughtfulness, wisdom, and intelligence. You simply cannot be charismatic without it.

  • People who come across as powerful, confident, or high-status are usually more contained; they don’t feel the urge to give so much reassurance because they’re not as worried about what their counterpart is thinking.

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