Being charismatic is an art. Meeting new people is scary, and it’s natural to feel nervous. If you fear going out and talking to people, you may have a condition called social anxiety. But for most people, it doesn’t go that far.
We want to be liked, but we often fear that we’re annoying the surrounding people. That just makes us more insecure.
If you want to know how to be more charismatic, the first step is ditching the insecurity. Confidence in yourself doesn’t mean you’re arrogant, but it means you accept the person you are.
There’s a cliche that “Interesting people are interested.” That oversimplifies things a bit. Yet if you don’t know what to say in a social situation, start by listening as much as possible.
How do you let people know you’re paying attention? Nodding along in agreement is one way to do this. But don’t nod so much that you sprain your neck.
Ditch the Phone
We’ve all been to parties where everyone sits on the couch and stares at their phones. But a party should not feel like the waiting room at your dentist’s office.
Yes, smartphones are cool. But checking your phone hundreds of times a day means you’re missing out on conversations.
Phones can act as a shield to keep us from feeling vulnerable. If possible, put your phone on silent before walking into a social situation.
If that’s not possible, at least limit how often you check it. Unless you get an urgent email or text message, once an hour is aplenty.
Ask People Questions
You’ve been listening for a bit and are ready to speak up. But you’re not sure what to say.
Keep the focus on other people by asking them a question about what they just said. For instance, let’s say they mentioned a childhood in California. You can ask, “What part of California are you from?”
That’s a simple question, that gives them an opening to discuss their life more. That makes them feel important.
But ask not only questions. If you do that, you’ll sound like a game show host, or worse yet, a police interrogator.
Make (Some) Jokes About Yourself
Self-deprecation often helps put people at ease. But don’t go overboard with the jokes about yourself.
For instance, making a joke about the year you dropped out of college to make it as an actor in New York is fine. But saying, “I’m such an idiot. Someone should have thrown me into the Hudson River” is not.
You can admit you’re not perfect without acting as you hate yourself. People respond a lot better to the former than the latter.
How to Be More Charismatic
A few people seem like naturals, but they, too, had to learn how to be more charismatic.
Figuring out how to be more influential is a lengthy process. Give yourself some breathing room as you figure things out.
You may not be the person who gets the party started, and that’s just fine. If you become more aware of how you connect with others, and what impression you leave behind, you’ll be just as effective and influential as the guy in the Mercedes Benz.
While it can be tempting to change yourself or tweak your personality to be liked, the most likable thing you can do is just the opposite.
“Every time you reject yourself, you kill your inner charisma gene,” Zimmerman says. So be you.
They may take a lot of work at first, but these traits are all so charming they’ll definitely be worth the effort. While it’s not important to be “on” 100 percent of the time, knowing how to turn up your charisma is something everyone should know how to do.