“I try to take part in social events, but I have no charisma whatsoever. I always feel smaller than I really am and almost never manage to get heard in a group conversation. How can I become more charismatic and draw people’s attention?”
Lacking charisma can leave you feeling overlooked and excluded from social situations. We are going to explore what charisma really is and how you can build yours.
- What is charisma?
- How to be more charismatic
- 3 great books on charisma
- What are the negatives of charisma?
- Common questions
Charisma can be difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. Charisma is about both being attractive (emotionally, not just physically) to other people and being able to influence them.
Charisma overlaps with charm, but they aren’t the same thing. We enjoy spending time with charming people, but we don’t necessarily follow their lead. Highly charismatic people can influence us whether we actually like them or not.
Charismatic people have more confidence than purely charming people. That confidence takes them from “enjoyable to spend time with” to “influential.”
Being more charismatic can help you to succeed in most social situations, from spending time with friends to speaking with colleagues at work. People who are charismatic are seen as natural leaders, as well as being fun to be around.
Charisma is intangible. We are charismatic if other people see us that way. This means that you can increase your charisma by changing how you come across to other people. We’ve divided our advice to improve your charisma into 4 sections; your body language, making others feel special, your communication skills, and your confidence.
Charismatic people are positive, and not just in what they say. They also have confident body language. Here are 6 ways to have more positive body language.
Smiling shows that you are open and happy to be around people. Become more charismatic by smiling more at people, but it has to be genuine.
Smiling more isn’t about faking being happy or pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s about allowing your smile to communicate that you are interested. It also shows confidence.
It might sound silly, but practice your smile in the mirror. Think of something you find funny and see how your smile develops. Practice recreating that smile until it feels natural.
If you’re still uncertain about your smile, try our article on how to smile naturally.
You don’t need to stare deeply into someone’s eyes to make eye contact. Looking at their face is sufficient. Try to keep your gaze moving and look away every few seconds. If you’re comfortable making eye contact, holding someone’s gaze for just a bit longer than normal can enhance your charisma.
For more help, check out our article on how to make great eye contact.
Someone charismatic is fully present in a conversation. Using hand gestures shows that you are emotionally engaged with the conversation, rather than treating it as an intellectual exercise. This makes you more charismatic.
Open-handed gestures are more friendly than a closed fist. Palms up is more approachable. Palms down is more authoritative. Having wide arms helps people to feel included.
We found a great breakdown of different hand gestures and what they mean. Practice in front of a mirror to help these feel natural and relaxed.
Open body language shows that you are willing to be vulnerable, which increases your personal charisma. Closed body language, where you look down or cover your chest with your arms, is about feeling protected and safe, but it is also anti-charismatic. You are literally protecting your vulnerable torso with your arms.
When you face someone directly with your shoulders back, your head lifted, and your arms apart, you are showing that you are confident.
If you struggle to adopt open body language, remind yourself that you are safe. Tell yourself, “I’m trying to protect myself physically because I feel emotionally vulnerable. It’s OK to drop my defensive body language and see how it feels.”
Charismatic people tend to have good posture, which makes them come across as strong and confident.
Good posture means standing tall, keeping your head up and your shoulders back. When you start trying to improve your posture, you might find it tiring and even physically uncomfortable. This is because your body has become used to slouching, especially if you spend a lot of your day working at a computer.
There are straps you can wear to improve your posture. However, they don’t help you build the muscles that will help you to adopt a good posture naturally, so they’re not a good long-term solution. Instead, try setting a timer to go off every 30 minutes throughout your workday. Each time you hear your alarm, fix your posture. Eventually, this will feel normal.
Charismatic people typically listen far more than they speak. It’s not just about quantity, though. When you’re talking to someone with lots of charisma, you feel like you are the focus of their attention. A lot of this is through their body language.
Use your body language to show you’re listening by facing the other person and looking at them. Looking around the room or facing away from them sends a strong signal that you’re disinterested.
Head movements are also important. Nodding encourages the other person to keep talking and shaking your head can show that you share their shock or frustration about something. Putting your head to one side and frowning slightly can show confusion.
A more advanced technique to show that you are listening is to mirror some of their body language. If you are sitting talking and they cross their legs, you might do the same. Used sparingly, this can help to build rapport, which boosts your charisma.
Having charisma doesn’t mean that you make everything about yourself. It usually means the opposite. Our suggestions on how to be more charming will help you to make people feel more special. Here are our top 6 ways to build your charisma by making others feel special.
Showing people that you like them makes them feel good about themselves. This is a key component of charisma. If people see that you like them, they are more likely to want to spend time with you and to listen to what you have to say.
Try giving people heartfelt compliments. Steer away from complimenting their appearance to show that you like them as a person.
Rather than trusting that someone will know what you like about them, be explicit. You can say things like
- I’m always so impressed by the way you…
- I love how you always…
- You’re really fun to hang out with
- I really appreciate how you did … for me. It means a lot that you’d help me out like that
- Wow. You really know a lot about … I’d love to learn more
Try to be specific and personal. Saying “You’re a really nice person” is less meaningful than saying, “I’m really inspired by how kind and thoughtful you are. You go out of your way to include everyone in conversations so that no one feels left out.”
A lot of charisma comes from how you pay attention to people. You’re not trying to be charismatic for your phone, so don’t pay attention to it.
If you use your phone to “hide” at social events, it can be scary to leave it in your pocket, but it’s essential if you want to have good charisma. Putting your phone onto airplane mode can be more effective than just switching it to silent because you’re not as tempted to check it.
The same is true of other distractions. Try to focus on the people you are with and ignore your surroundings.
Remembering someone’s name is a simple way to show you’ve been paying attention to someone. It might not feel like a big deal, but think about how you feel if the opposite happens.
If you find this difficult, try to use their name a couple of times each time you see them. Make eye contact as well to help their name stick in your mind.
If someone has a name that is hard to pronounce, try really hard to get it right. Someone with an unusual name often has to correct people over and over. Apologize and show that you recognize the importance of their name by saying, “Please do correct me. Names matter, so I’d like to get it right.”
Be careful not to go too far using names. Using someone’s name when you don’t need to in a conversation can seem forced.
Charismatic people seem fearless, but that’s not because they don’t feel vulnerable. It’s because they embrace that vulnerability and let you see it.
We feel vulnerable when we show people our genuine selves. Charismatic people attract us because we know that we’re seeing who they really are.
Try giving your honest opinion on topics. It doesn’t need to be personal. Even saying “I couldn’t get into that book myself” can feel scary. Make sure that you give your opinion without criticizing people who feel differently. You can encourage others to express a different view by asking, “What were the best bits of it for you?”
For more ideas, you can read our article on how to open up more.
People who have lots of charisma tend to be generous, but not necessarily with money. Charismatic people are generous with their time and attention.
Get into the habit of making space for other people in conversations. Ask other people for their opinions. If you notice that someone has been quiet, invite them into the conversation. For example, you could say, “How about you, Doug? What do you think?”
If you’re looking to develop a charismatic personality, try to be humble. Charismatic people are often surprisingly humble, but this never compromises their self-worth.
Humility means recognizing other people’s intrinsic value and seeing others as no more or less important than you. You recognize others’ achievements without comparing them to yours.
If you have lots of self-worth but no humility, you can easily come across as arrogant. If you have lots of humility but little self-worth, you can appear meek or self-denigrating. Knowing your own value without needing to prove it boosts your charisma
Charismatic people are great communicators. They listen carefully and rarely get stuck in small talk. Here are 5 ways to develop your charisma by improving your communication skills.
One way charismatic people capture our attention is by how they pay attention to us. To increase your charisma, give other people your full attention.
Be curious about who they are and what they care about. It’s important to ask questions, but even more important to care about the answers.
Practice being more charismatic by asking the right questions. Being curious leads charismatic people to ask unusual questions.
Questions about facts, such as “Where did you grow up?” are generally less interesting than questions about how someone feels or what they are passionate about.
Rather than asking what someone’s job is, try asking, “What do you love about your job?” If they say that they don’t like their job, you could ask, “If money was no object, what would you do?” This is about tapping into people’s interests and passions.
Try asking these questions with a genuinely interested tone of voice. This shows that you care about the answer and aren’t just being polite.
If you want to gain charisma, practice finding out what you have in common with other people.
This doesn’t mean you have to have an identical taste or opinion. If an acquaintance loves jazz and you are really into rap, you might bond over your love of improvisation in live performances.
If you’re struggling to find common ground, try to engage with emotions. Psychologists have suggested that there are only 6 basic emotions, so you will almost certainly be able to find something you share.
It might be as simple as saying that you felt unreasonably happy when you found a gift card you’d forgotten about. They might talk about things that had made them surprisingly happy, such as finding the perfect parking space.
Talking badly about others rarely reflects well on you. You might come across as a generally negative person, or it might look as if you’re trying to build yourself up by criticizing others. Either way, it won’t enhance your charisma.
Talk about people you like and admire more than you criticize people. Don’t fake liking people you dislike, but pass up opportunities to rant about them. If you’re asked your opinion of someone you dislike, you can say, “I think we have different perspectives on the world.”
If you imagine having lots of personal charisma, you’ll probably imagine being in a room full of people laughing at a witty comment you’ve just made. Being funny can definitely add to your charisma.
Be generous with your humor. Laughing at other people’s jokes can be more charismatic than making jokes yourself.
Charismatic humor includes others and draws them in. Jokes singling people out can seem mean-spirited. Observing something unusual or absurd about a situation that everyone can relate to is both funny and inclusive. Quick-witted quips or comments can be especially helpful for boosting your charisma.
Highly charismatic people have often mastered self-deprecating humor, but this can backfire if you lack the deep confidence to carry it off. It’s usually better to avoid self-deprecation while you practice increasing your charisma.
Our guide on how to be funny has practical advice on using humor.
You might want to build your charisma to improve your self-confidence, but that is usually the wrong way around. Charisma is socially constructed. Someone is charismatic if we all think that they are. Relying on being charismatic to fuel your confidence relies on other people’s opinions of you.
Here are some key insights to help you build your confidence for increased charisma.
We’ve talked about being humble, but people often forget that this also means seeing your own value. Remember that you’re trying to see yourself as no more or less important than anyone else.
Learning to recognize your own self-worth can be slow, so start small. Try making a list of things you are really good at, or even things that you consider yourself OK at. Include things that you think other people also do well, such as listening or being a good friend. You might be surprised at how rarely other people actually exhibit those skills.
Acknowledge, but don’t give in to, your critical inner voice. When you think unkind things about yourself, don’t push it down. That can lead to the “rebound effect,” where trying not to think about something makes us think about it more. Instead, tell yourself. “That’s just my fear talking. I am important and valuable, and I am learning to believe in myself.”
Learning to accept yourself quickly improves your charisma. Think about it. Someone who accepts themselves is more likely to have spare energy to invest in really understanding others.
Accepting yourself means knowing who you are and being comfortable with it; it means being comfortable with your strengths and achievements, and with your flaws and weaknesses.
Accepting yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t still try to improve. It means seeing yourself for who you are right now and being comfortable with that person.
Practical steps you can take to increase self-acceptance include journaling and forgiving yourself for past mistakes. You might also limit your social media use if you compare yourself to others a lot.
Charismatic people are unapologetically themselves. Even unkind or cruel people can be charismatic when they are completely upfront about who they are.
Being yourself starts with understanding yourself. Recognizing your emotions and knowing where they come from can help you to be more authentic. We have an article full of ways to help you get to know yourself to be more authentic.
People with high charisma aren’t chameleons. They don’t change their beliefs or actions to help them fit in. They show their true selves and are willing to take the risk that some people might not like them. Gain charisma by facing your fear of rejection and showing your true self.
People who fake charisma can come across as loud or overbearing. They lack the natural warmth and interest in other people that come with real charisma. Instead, they focus on outward signs, such as monopolizing conversations, which genuinely charismatic people usually don’t do.
Rather than faking charisma, try to be authentic. Don’t look interested in others. Try to become interested in them. Don’t try to appear confident. Work on believing in yourself. It’s not the fastest way to seem charismatic, but it is the most sustainable way to develop a magnetic personality.
This is one of our favorite books for improving your charisma. It offers loads of great advice and goes into detail about being both warm and confident.
This book offers loads of ‘hacks’ to help you be more charismatic and thrive in social situations. Some of these might seem ‘gimmicky’ to some readers, but most people will find something valuable in there.
We’re not completely comfortable with books that focus on manipulating people, but this book offers you a lot of insights into how people work and how to be influential without being overbearing.
Being charismatic might look idyllic, but there can be dangers.
Having lots of charisma makes it easier to influence people. The downside is that they might not tell you when you’re about to make a mistake or asking for something impossible.
People who have lots of charisma sometimes have to put a lot of effort into making other people feel secure enough to contradict them.
Being charismatic makes people enjoy being around you. The downside of making other people feel interesting and special is that they can become clingy.
Charismatic people genuinely care about others, so they can find it difficult to ask people to give them more space.
People with a lot of charisma can sometimes be seen as superficial, especially by people who are jealous of their ability to influence others.
Some charismatic people can become self-absorbed and start to think that their needs are the only ones that matter. The need for more adulation and attention can make some people cross the line into harmful behavior.
Being addicted to being charismatic can also encourage you to do things that you might like because they will keep other people happy. This can diminish your self-respect and confidence, which is ultimately bad for your charisma.
People are charismatic when others are enthused about spending time with them or when they can easily influence others. Most charismatic people derive their charisma from their focus on, or interest in, others. They use their body language and conversational skills to show others that they care.
One quick change to improve your charisma is making sure that you are well-presented, showered and hair brushed with clean clothes. Next, concentrate on making other people feel interesting and special. Other measures, such as improving your confidence, can take longer.
Charisma is always learned. It’s just that some people learned it earlier than others. Charisma isn’t about being physically attractive. It’s about making other people feel interesting and important when you are with them, so they want to follow your lead.
We are attracted to charismatic people because they are warm and because they make us feel good about ourselves. The confidence a charismatic person gives out can also help to quiet our insecurities and help us feel sure of ourselves.
Many introverts are charismatic. Introverts are often acutely aware of other people’s emotional states. It’s why they find big social events draining but tend to understand what will make someone feel special. Being shy is a bigger barrier to being charismatic than being introverted.
Both men and women can be charismatic. Because charisma is based on how others view us, there can be differences in what society expects from a charismatic man or woman. Charismatic women may be more “agreeable” while charismatic men may be seen as “stronger.”