Charismatic woman laughing
There's always that one person in every office or circle who seems to own a room even if they were the last person to enter it (fashionably late). They can hold an audience like the late Queen of England and seem to exude a glow even on a pitch-black night. This person in your life is probably as charismatic as they come.
"Charisma is a person's energy, vibe or appeal that captures our attention," says Dr. Michele Leno, Ph.D., LP, a licensed psychologist with DML Psychological Services, PLLC. "Charisma is a superpower."
While charismatic people may seem to have a natural charm, charisma doesn't come naturally to everyone. In fact, this person may have had to work to develop the trait. Learning how to be more charismatic can feel like a tall task, especially if you lean "introverted." However, it's possible—and beneficial—to step outside your comfort zone.
"While some are born with it, others have to develop it," Dr. Leno says. "Becoming more charismatic can help you get noticed sooner rather than later. It sends the message that you are the person for the job."
Ready to talk the walk? Psychologists offered simple tips for working on your charisma.
What Is Charisma?
Charisma is a character trait some people naturally have and others must cultivate. "It's the ability to attract, draw attention to yourself, and naturally influence others," explains Reena B. Patel, a positive psychologist and licensed educational board-certified behavior analyst.
Charisma is not a hard skill you can measure. However, one psychologist says people generally know charisma when they experience it.
"People who have this quality are described as having a likability," says Dr. Gayle MacBride, Ph.D., LP, a psychologist with Veritas Psychology Partners. "They are described as charming, and people feel pulled to be around that individual. We find ourselves wanting more."
What Makes Someone Charismatic?
Dr. MacBride says confidence and effective communication are two common characteristics of a person brimming with charisma.
"They believe in themselves, and others can see this confidence," Dr. MacBride says. "This confidence is not arrogance. It is a well-earned and accurate positive self-image. "They are ...[also] able to express themselves clearly and engage in active listening. They are engaged with their audience."
Charisma is generally a positive trait. However, it's had a dark side throughout history.
"The biggest risk of being taken in by someone who is too charismatic is that you might be manipulated into decisions that you might not otherwise make," Dr. MacBride explains. "History is full of leaders that have convinced people to do things they wouldn't have otherwise done."
Still, in the right hands, charisma is a positive trait that may (finally) net you that long-awaited promotion or raise (or even a new friend).
How To Become More Charismatic
1. Build self-confidence
Before you can win over others, Dr. MacBride says you must convince yourself you're worth it (spoiler alert: you are). Try practicing self-affirmation. For instance, you might tell yourself, "Good job," or "I'm proud of how that turned out."
"Make this part of your daily self-talk," Dr. MacBride says. "Remember that we can’t be good at all things, and we can’t get good at things until we endure the risk of failure."
2. Boost self-esteem
Self-confidence and self-esteem may be used interchangeably, but they're different.
"Esteem is a more general assessment of yourself as a person," Dr. MacBride says. "To develop this, you need to be able to see past your flaws—we all have them—and know that it’s OK to have these flaws. You are not your failure. You need to be able to know that failures are not people but events."
By thinking more objectively about yourself, Dr. MacBride says you'll begin to have a more positive self-esteem.
3. Meet new people
Stepping outside your comfort zone—including your social circle—will give you opportunities to develop the skills needed for charisma.
"Meeting new people requires us to have new conversations, which build confidence," Dr. Leno explains. "You can start by talking to a coworker, someone at an event or a social media connection."
4. Watch your body language
One of the first things people generally notice about a charismatic person is their confident verbal communication. However, a charismatic person uses more than their words.
"Use your body language to tell the other person that they are the most important thing to you right now," Dr. MacBride suggests. "Leaning your body in a little toward the other person communicates that you are fully engaged."
5. Exude optimism about others
The positive self-talk you started in step No. 1? Pass it on. Tell someone else "good job" or that you love how a work project they took the lead on shook out.
"Look for good in others and share it with them," Patel says. "It's a great way to connect with people. Help others feel good about themselves. By helping the people around you feel good, you create an environment of positive energy that others are naturally drawn to."
6. Use the other person's name
As you're speaking with old friends and making new ones, refer to them by name.
"It’s a great way to feel seen and heard by another person," Dr. MacBride says. "It’s an acknowledgment of our presence and importance."
It seems simple, but some people struggle to remember names. MacBride suggests writing it down.
7. Display empathy
When you lead with empathy, you clear a path for deeper, more authentic connections.
"Empathy is the moment when you can really relate to someone, even if your experiences aren’t exactly the same," Dr. MacBride says.
"When you are able to relate to others' perspectives, you will draw people in," Patel says. "Individuals with high emotional intelligence tend to be charismatic individuals as well."
8. Assert yourself
Charismatic people aren't afraid to take charge. As you build charisma, be sure to use this quality wisely, or you risk turning people off rather than pulling them in (for the right reasons).
"When you're assertive, you show personal power, but you use this power with kindness, respect and dignity," Patel says. "It's a very likable trait."
9. Pay attention to personal appearance
Charisma comes from within, but a little attention to external appearances doesn't hurt your cause.
"There is no need to go on a grand shopping spree, but your personal appearance plays a role in your charisma," Dr. Leno says. "People are naturally attracted to well-groomed people who embody self-care."
One tip: Buy clothes that feel good in your current season—you'll find you start exuding confidence from the outside in and vice versa.
10. Be authentic
You don't have to overhaul your entire being to become charismatic. In fact, Dr. Leno suggests starting with what you have.
"If you are funny, own your sense of humor," Dr. Leno says. "Sometimes we overlook our talents while praising someone else's. Charisma starts with self-acceptance. If you embrace who you are, others will follow."
Dr. MacBride agrees that authenticity fosters connections and makes a person relatable.
"Being relatable is important to being likable," Dr. MacBride says. "This can be a good time to share something humorous about yourself. Don’t go all in on an embarrassing story that is too revealing, but just enough to make you human and create a safe space for others to do the same."