There are amazing communicators, and then there are exceptional ones.
So what is that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that gives some people an edge? Charisma. It’s the factor that gets crowds to believe in a vision and the trait that makes you hang on someone’s every word. It brings effective communication to a magnetic level. And it’s a powerful asset.
But while you may think of charm as a natural, effortless quality that you either possess or you don’t, there are ways to increase your presence and appeal in any conversation. And no, it’s not about being manipulative — though it will definitely make you more influential.
“Although charisma has at times been equated with manipulation, true charismatic communication is not about convincing others to do what you want them to do,” says Lindsay Lapaquette, human behavior, and interpersonal communication specialist and speaker.
“Charismatic communication is a transparent style of communication that inspires and motivates. This gift to inspire others stems from an ability to create genuine connections with others and to understand their needs, all the while respecting your own.”
Ready to ramp up the appeal of your communication style?
Here’s what charismatic communicators do on a regular basis — adopt their habits and you’ll leave a lasting impression on anyone you interact with.
They stay true to themselves
If you’d rather hide under a conference room table than break an awkward silence with a sarcastic joke, there is no need to force yourself to turn into a stand-up comedian.
Charismatic communicators are authentic and authenticity is something you can’t fake.
Lapaquette stresses the importance of remaining genuine when working on picking up new communication skills.
“Any new communication skills you want to adopt must feel genuine and natural for your unique personality style. Otherwise, it will be perceived as awkward and rehearsed.”
Sharing your actual opinions is a way to cultivate authenticity. “If what you say is not aligned with what you are thinking, people can sense this.
Charismatic communicators know that connected communication means being willing to be vulnerable and engage in difficult conversations. They are always willing to share what they are thinking and do so respectfully.”
They maintain a full presence
“The best thing you can do to build a connection with someone is to be fully present during conversations,” says Lapaquette, who recommends clearing your mind and focusing solely on what the other person is saying without planning your reply in advance.
So resist the urge to check your phone.
Ask questions and show interest. It’s not about biting your tongue but rather taking in the information and caring about what the other person has to say in the first place.
“We cannot truly see others if we constantly direct the conversation.”
They embrace emotional intelligence
The most charismatic people are emotionally intelligent.
According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is about being highly aware of your emotional states as well as being able to identify and manage them, which in turn makes you more tuned in to the emotions of others.
People with high EQ leverage that awareness in interpersonal settings.
“Charismatic communicators can put themselves in another person’s shoes to attempt to understand what the other person may be experiencing. They remind themselves that people do the best they can with the skills they have at any point in time,” says Lapaquette.
“Being charismatic requires being able to make an emotional connection with others. This means being able to sit with another person through difficult emotions, sometimes, without saying a word.”
They avoid reactive communication
This goes hand in hand with emotional intelligence.
Bewitching communicators are able to stay grounded during the most emotionally charged conversations, which helps them avoid saying things they’ll regret.
“People who communicate charismatically know how to effectively manage their emotions. When they are in a heightened emotional state, they know they need to address this first before pursuing interactions with others,” says Lapaquette. “Similarly, when others are in a reactive state, they do not take another person’s heightened emotions personally.”
They keep an open mind
According to Lapaquette, charismatic communicators also seek to understand different opinions and perspectives.
They approach disagreements with curiosity rather than defensiveness. And in order to maintain that sense of openness that breeds connection and respect, they actively stay away from making assumptions.
“Regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation, etc., charismatic people view every person as simply a human being to connect with, and treat them as such,” she says. “They will never try to shove their opinions down your throat. Rather, they are influential because they are skilled at reaching a common understanding across individuals.”
They respect boundaries
Being aware of boundaries might not be the first thing you think of when aiming to improve your communication skills, but Lapaquette says it’s a key factor when it comes to having a strong presence.
“Charismatic communicators are connected to their own needs and share these assertively with others. They also respect the limits set by others. They do not take on other peoples’ responsibilities and do not feel responsible for others’ reactions,” she said.
They are warm and include others in conversations
“People are drawn to charismatic individuals because of the warmth they exude,” says Lapaquette.
If you tend to be more reserved, this is not about fake smiling or acting like you are super extroverted.
Practice outwardly expressing genuine feelings of excitement and enthusiasm when they occur.
As for including strangers in conversations, it can be as simple as noticing when someone seems a bit left out and making eye contact or asking a question to bring that person into the conversation.
Naturally outgoing or super passionate? Don’t hold back from letting these traits shine in all their glory.