“I feel like I’m not charming, and I alienate people. I want to be a charming person who everyone wants to be with.”
Most of us probably know someone who is amazingly charming. Charming people seem to know everyone and are almost universally liked. Who wouldn’t want to be more charming?
Being charming means being enjoyable to spend time with, which makes others drawn to us. It doesn’t rely on being good-looking, rich, or witty. It’s all about how you make other people feel.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the most important steps to improve your charm.
How to be more charming:
- Show warmth
- Show vulnerability
- Be present
- Smile more
- Show empathy
- Listen to make others feel understood
- Show respect
- Be aware of boundaries
- Own your mistakes
- How to be charming
- How to be charming over text
- How to be charming at work
- Common questions
How to be charming
Charming people have 3 key attributes that set them aside from others; warmth, respect, and empathy. Not only do they have those qualities, but they also take every opportunity to show them.
Showing others that you are warm and approachable is key to being charming. Studies show that warmth is one of the most important qualities when it comes to people wanting to be around us. We would rather work with someone who is warm but incompetent, for example, than someone who is capable but cold.
Here are some of the best ways to show others that you feel warmly towards them without trying.
1. Show vulnerability
One of the ways charming people make us feel good is by trusting us. They show us their genuine selves, which makes us feel special.
Show others that you trust them by being vulnerable. You don’t have to talk to everyone as if they’re your therapist (in fact, you definitely shouldn’t) but try to be honest.
Practice voicing an unpopular opinion politely but honestly. Remember not to sound judgmental of other people’s preferences. You might say, “I don’t enjoy stand-up comedy. I’m in awe of the courage it must take to do it, but it just doesn’t fit my sense of humor.”
For more ways to increase your warmth and show vulnerability, go to our article on how to open up.
Start a conversation
Most people recognize that starting a conversation is a little scary. Show your warmth and vulnerability by making the first conversational move. We have loads of ways to get better at starting conversations.
2. Be present
We spend much of our lives distracted; by technology, by our own anxieties, by an awareness of where we need to go next, or by other things happening around us. Charming people are able to cut through that and really be present with the people they are talking with.
Staying focused on the person you are speaking with can be difficult. Consider some mindfulness meditation or practice daily to help you be fully grounded in the present moment.
This is particularly important when you really need to make a good impression, such as on a date. Give your date your full attention and they’ll probably come away raving about your charming personality.
Being charming means investing time in relationships, so try not to rush social interactions. You might rush around the store getting dinner after work, but you can still greet your cashier warmly and pause to say goodbye with a smile.
For more meaningful social interactions, try to give yourself plenty of time. Charming people rarely have to rush off, and they will typically be regretful if they do. Talking for a little longer can also help overcome the impression that a charming person might just be being polite.
3. Know people’s names
A highlight of hanging out with charming people is seeing their faces light up and hearing them say your name with genuine pleasure as soon as they see you. It’s welcoming and makes you feel important.
Try to remember people’s names and work on pronouncing them correctly. Using their name a few times while talking to them will help you to remember it next time.
Don’t use someone’s name too often in a conversation, as this can feel forced. You should also be careful about using someone’s name too much if they are in a subordinate position to you (for example, your server in a restaurant), as this can come across as a power play.
4. Make eye contact
Making eye contact shows people that you are interested, which makes you more charming. Good eye contact means looking at the other person enough without staring.
Allow both your face and your eyes to be mobile. Your gaze should mostly be on the other person, but you should look away slightly every few seconds. You don’t need to meet their eyes; just look in the direction of their face. If you struggle to keep eye contact, practice trying to read their facial expression. This will keep your eyes lifted and focused on them.
If you’re still struggling with eye contact, check out the rest of our tips to improve your eye contact.
5. Smile more
Charming people smile. A lot. They smile to show that they’re genuinely enjoying themselves, which makes others feel valued.
Increase your charm by smiling more. Use a mirror to practice making a genuine smile. Think of something funny or happy and see how your face changes. Your eyes will crinkle a little, and your cheeks will lift.
Think about when you smile. You don’t want to smile when someone’s telling you something sad. In general, you might smile to:
- Greet someone
- Encourage someone to keep talking
- Convey that you found something funny
- Show that you’re enjoying being with someone
- Communicate agreement
- Express shock or disbelief (this is a slightly different kind of smile)
- Look welcoming
If a great smile still seems tricky, we have more tips on how to smile naturally.
6. Give a firm handshake
People with lots of charm show it from your first meeting. Their introductions and handshakes feel warm, inclusive, and welcoming.
Keep a firm pressure without trying to overpower the other person. Studies have shown that this makes the best overall first impression.
7. Look for the positives
Most people prefer to spend time with people who cheer us up rather than bring us down, so enhance your charm by looking for the positives.
Try to find something that you like about everyone you meet. That acquaintance who is always curt might be impressively punctual. Practice with strangers in the street, imagining who they are. Someone who is rushing past you in a business suit might be rushing because they’re trying to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor.
You’re not trying to force yourself to be an optimist, especially if you’re not naturally. You’re just trying to get used to looking out for positive things. This makes it easier to notice the positives around you.
Don’t overdo this. Not every situation has a positive, and people don’t always want positivity pushed on them. If someone tells you that they’ve had bad news, listen to them and show empathy. Don’t tell them that there will be a silver lining. Be authentically positive about your own life, but allow others the space for their own feelings.
8. Increase others’ status
Someone who is charming often goes out of their way to make the people around them look good. They are not fighting for status. Instead, they are trying to increase others’ status.
Increase your charm by highlighting the status of people you are talking to. Point out when they have said something interesting. If someone has had their point overlooked, you could say, “I think Kelly said something very similar to that a minute ago.”
Speak publicly about the things other people are good at. You might say, “Ari’s the real expert on that,” or “Have you tasted Zane’s cakes? They’re to die for!”
Being warm helps build your charm because people feel that you care about them, but empathy helps you be more charming by showing that you really understand them. Empathy and warmth amplify each other because people feel that you see and like the real them. Here’s how you can show empathy.
1. Listen to make others feel understood
Charming people listen carefully to what others have to say. It’s flattering to have someone really pay attention to us.
Show that you are listening carefully by asking questions or paraphrasing what someone has just said. For example, you could say, “So, what you’re saying is…” or “Oh wow. And you were there while this was happening?”
You can also show that you are listening with your body language. Nodding your head can show agreement or empathy, but it can also be used to encourage others to keep talking.
2. Find common ground
Being charming means looking for what you have in common with others. To find common ground, try to understand how someone feels about something and think of a time that you felt a similar way. Psychologists argue that there are only around 6 basic emotions, so you can probably find something in common.
Here’s an example of how you can take two very different experiences and find common ground through the underlying emotions.
Them: “I went skydiving for the first time this weekend. It was intense.”
You: “Wow. I’ve never done anything that crazy. It must have been a huge adrenaline rush.”
Them: “It really was.”
You: “It’s not the same, but I imagine it might feel a little bit like how I feel when I’m public speaking. I’m really anxious beforehand. While it’s happening, I’m completely focused on what I’m doing, and it’s only afterward that the adrenaline really kicks in.”
Them: “Yeah. That’s exactly what it’s like!”
3. Praise others meaningfully
Having someone notice things we have done well, especially things that feel important, is charming. Charming people praise our efforts and achievements in a way that feels personal.
To help you give meaningful praise, think about where the other person has been putting their time and effort. For example, someone who devotes time to their appearance and fashion might be touched by a compliment on how well put-together they look. Someone who has written a book might be delighted by praise for a great turn of phrase.
Don’t make a big deal of your praise if this will make someone feel uncomfortable. If someone says something interesting during a group conversation, you might just say, “That was really insightful.”
Repeating praise at a later date can be particularly charming, as people know that you’re not just being polite. In the example above, the next time you see them, you could say, “I was talking to a friend about our discussion last week, and it really made him think too. Do you have any ideas for good books or podcasts on the subject?”
Respect is the final pillar of a charming personality. Charming people ooze respect for others and for themselves. Knowing that they are respected makes it easier for others to relax and feel safe (which magnifies your warmth) and lets you see the real them (which emphasizes your empathy). Here are our top ways to show you are respectful.
1. Be aware of boundaries
You might assume that charming people don’t need to pay much attention to others’ boundaries, as people will let them get away with anything. An example is the charming elderly man who flirts effortlessly with every woman around. In fact, charming people let others feel safe by being acutely aware of boundaries.
That charming elderly gentleman is able to flirt outrageously because he never pushes any boundaries. Everyone knows that he’s not expecting anything from those he flirts with. He’s happy to make them feel special, which is why he’s so charming.
Recognizing other people’s boundaries means looking for signs that the other person might be uncomfortable, and responding quickly. If you reach out to touch someone on the arm and they tense, they’re probably not OK with being touched. Charming people will often wait for others to touch them before making physical contact.
You can ask about someone’s boundaries, but make sure it’s equally easy for them to say no as it is to say yes. Rather than asking, “Is it OK to hug you?,” you might say, “Are you a hug person or a handshake person?”
2. Own your mistakes
Being upfront about your mistakes shows that you respect yourself, as well as others.
Charming people don’t under- or over-apologize. Their respect makes them want to apologize when they get something wrong. They acknowledge their mistake and apologize smoothly.
Get the balance right by focusing on the other person and what they need. If you walk into someone and they drop things, for example, they are probably feeling awkward and clumsy. Gushing apologies will only draw more attention to them. Saying, “I’m sorry. That was totally my fault” and then helping them pick up what they’ve dropped lets them relax. If you’re a real charmer, you might offer to help them carry everything to their destination.
You might find apologies awkward if you are someone who assigns blame easily. When something small goes wrong, notice if you start trying to work out who was at fault. Remind yourself, “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The main thing is to get back to an enjoyable social dynamic.”
Being less focused on blame can make it easier to apologize without stress. Aim to be easygoing about mistakes, whether they are yours or other peoples’.
3. Show respect to service people
A big difference between people who are genuinely charming and those who are trying to manipulate others is how they treat people they don’t need to charm. Someone who is manipulative, for example, might be charming towards his date but rude and inconsiderate to their waiter. Being respectful to everyone shows that your charm is authentic.
To be more respectful, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. A disrespectful person might snap their fingers to summon a busy waiter. Instead, catch their eye and slightly raise one hand to show that you’d like their attention but you’re not expecting them to drop everything for you. You’ll seem more charming, and you’ll probably get better service too.
4. Upgrade your image
You don’t need to be physically stunning or fashionably dressed to be charming, but you do need to show that you respect where you are and who you are with.
It is always worth being clean, groomed, and making sure that you smell good (but not overpowering others with scent). You are showing others that their company is something you are willing to make an effort for, which makes them feel valued.
How to be charming over text
Text messages are a tricky social environment, as they lack many of the cues we normally use to understand each other. You can be charming in a text message, but try to be clearer than you might be in person.
1. Think about the other person
Writing a text can feel like we’re talking to our phone, but charming people think about the person they’re talking with. Only text things you would be happy to say directly to them. Follow the usual turn-taking rules of a conversation, waiting until the other person replies before sending more messages.
Thinking about the other person might also mean that you don’t text them late at night if you know they get up early for work or while you know they’re driving.
Be careful if you’re flirting with someone you like over text that you remember their boundaries. Nude photos or other explicit content, for example, are rarely charming. Remember, if you wouldn’t say it or show it in person, you probably shouldn’t in a text.
2. Give exaggerated answers
Overcome the lack of context in a text message by exaggerating your charm. You can even be a little camp here, as it will usually come across as witty and suave. Rather than saying, “OK. Let’s do that” try, “An utterly inspired suggestion! Nothing would be more perfect. I shall clear my diary immediately.”
3. Use emojis (carefully)
Emojis are another way to add context to your text messages, which can allow your charm to shine through. They should be used in moderation, however. One or two emojis to clarify your meaning or show warmth is fine. Too many can seem insecure or as if you’re trying too hard.
The use of emojis evolves rapidly, so only use those you’re completely confident of. Be especially careful when texting someone much older or younger than you, as they may have different interpretations of the same symbols.
4. Read your text aloud
Charming people try to be unambiguous in their positive feelings towards others. Avoid teasing in a text unless you’re absolutely sure that the other person will recognize your positive intent.
Most people “hear” the texts they write in a specific tone of voice, but this doesn’t always come across to the other person. If you’re not sure how your text might sound, try reading it aloud in a stern or angry voice. If it still sounds polite, it’s probably fine.
How to be charming at work
1. Do your homework
Doing a little research on people before you meet them can help you appear knowledgeable and charming in the workplace. You don’t want to seem like a stalker, but checking out LinkedIn, for example, can help you make a good impression.
2. Be helpful
One of the most charming people in any office is the person who is willing to step in and help other people out. This doesn’t mean being a doormat but offering to help someone who’s struggling shows that you’re paying attention to their situation and that you care.
3. Take responsibility
There’s little less charming than someone who fails to take responsibility, particularly in the workplace. Being known as someone who takes responsibility allows other people to trust you, which makes you easy to be around.
4. Be warm and empathetic
Balancing being warm and empathetic is essential if you want to be charming at work. Asking about someone’s weekend can develop your charm because you’re taking an interest in them as a person, but not if you lack the empathy to notice that they’re in a panic about imminent deadlines.
4. Be competent
If you’re trying to be more charming at work, it’s important to also highlight your competence. Studies show that charming women, in particular, can appear less competent, so make sure you demonstrate your ability as well as being likable.
What makes someone charming?
Charming people make others feel good about themselves. We find people charming when they show us warmth, empathy, and respect. They demonstrate that they understand us, like us, and are willing to treat us with respect. This makes us feel safe and important.
How do you know if you’re charming?
Charming people don’t always realize it. You may be charming if people relax when talking to you, seek out your company, and you are able to strike up a conversation with anyone. People may also smile more when talking with you.
What is superficial charm?
Superficial charm is when someone appears to care about others, but only to get something they want. It is fake or inauthentic charm. It is usually ineffective, as people quickly see through it, though some high-functioning psychopaths are able to maintain it for long periods of time.
What is the difference between charm and charisma?
Charm makes people feel good about themselves when they are with you, while charisma lets you influence others. Both are about making other people want to be around you. Many people have both qualities, but they are distinct. Check out our guide to being more charismatic. You might also like these quotes about charisma.
What is the difference between masculine and feminine charm?
Both men and women can be charming, but people may respond to them differently. Charming women are seen as less competent or reliable than charming men. Traditionally, charming men have taken a protective role, while feminine charm has been seen as more subservient, but this is changing now.
Is charm attractive?
Being charming is attractive, as long as it is authentic. Being charming means being someone people want to spend time with, whether romantically or platonically. By contrast, inauthentic charm can feel slimy or creepy.
Are there downsides to charm?
Being charming can be tiring, especially for introverts. Making time for everyone can leave little time for yourself. Charming people can become people-pleasers, so it’s important to maintain boundaries. Studies show that charming people can also seem less competent than those with less charm.
At times, when I try to make conversation with certain people and they don’t make any responses, it makes me feel ignored or I wonder if I said something offensive. I’ve had many experiences of one-sided conversations and they are just giving one-word answers. I ask myself, “Is he/she shy or does that person not like me”? I come from a family that has spent time together when my brother and I were growing up, as well as visiting relatives. When I used to be married, I learned that my ex-husband is a loner and I was ignored by him. I love people, but he is not a “people person”.