I went to a barbecue a few weeks ago, and my only memory of it is meeting Sarah.
Sarah laughed easily. She’d just met me but asked so thoughtfully about my upcoming book — “Perfect timing for this topic, Susie!” she said, smiling. She shared a little about herself: “I’m originally from Mexico, but Miami is home while I’m working on something behind the scenes…”
She was upbeat and positive, and her easy, bright manner drew people in. Not only that, but the girl had damn fine style. “I collect bracelets — I don’t even take them off to shower!” she shared, and smiled coyly.
Sarah was the girl of the hour at the gathering. And she didn’t even stay that long. When she left, I felt ready to leave too.
Charisma is defined as “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.”
And Sarah had it.
It’s certainly attractive. It’s often difficult to define (how do you measure it, exactly?). And it’s something we all wouldn’t mind having a little more of.
The good news is that charismatic qualities can be learned.
Here are some simple ways to dial up your charisma anywhere, anytime.
People who drone on and on about themselves aren’t all that fascinating, are they? But people who ask questions and listen? Oh, my! We love those people.
It’s amazing how far a little bit of genuine curiosity can go. Simple questions like “How do you know the host?”, “How long have you lived in [fill in the city]?”, and “Are you watching ‘You’ on Netflix?” can strike up some lively conversations.
Think beyond the same old “What do you do for a living?” (which can also feel like sizing up a person). Keep it neutral, fun, and light! In the end, we all just wanna have fun wherever we are.
Charismatic types often drop little nuggets of info about themselves that are intriguing, like “When I was in Japan…” or “When I volunteered at the U.S. Open, a surprising highlight was…” (But steer clear of TMI tidbits like “I’m staying away from the veggies and dip because raw broccoli makes me really bloated.”)
People don’t need a blow-by-blow account of your daily life or even a particular experience (we’ve all been stuck with a person who goes into way too much detail and has us seeking an out, pronto). Weave the most compelling parts of yourself and your experiences into conversations.
Positive people are naturally more magnetic than negative ones. Think about it. Like at my barbecue, someone who’s having a good time at the office, in a meeting, or at a cool after-work shindig is going to attract others more than someone who is angry, despondent, or critical. Every time.
We want to feel good — it’s human nature. So people who already feel good appeal to us. We want some of what they’re having!
A simple way to make sure you’re putting out that feel-good energy is to be into (rather than against) things. Talk in terms of what you like/support/enjoy rather than the opposite.
A simple “I can’t decide if I love Lizzo or Billie Eilish more!” is far more optimistic than “I can’t stand all the crap topping the charts right now.”
One invites conversation and exchange, one doesn’t.
This is optional, but it can go a long way to up your charisma quotient. Ever notice how some people are instantly recognizable because of something? That something, whenever you see or hear it, makes you think of them. Anna Wintour’s chic bob. Cara Delevingne’s dramatic brows.
A friend of mine, Zoe, wears red lipstick every day, rain or shine. One time, another friend joined us for lunch and said, “I love your makeup — so glam!”
She followed Zoe on Instagram and said, “I found her ’cause of the lips!” And when we walked by a luxury shop window with a model sporting the same hue, we both thought, “Like Zoe!”
Gwen Stefani knows all about the red lip magic too. Something you become known for helps you be the person of the hour without even being there.
What might remind other people of you?
For many of us, charisma can seem unattainable. But it’s not. Experiment with a few of these things and see how they can bring a bit of spark to your conversations… and a bit of je ne sais quoi to your personality!
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist. Sign up for free weekly confidence injection on her website or check out her YouTube channel for actionable advice that’ll make you feel fabulous, fast.