Can you learn to be more charismatic? Behavioral Investigator Vanessa Van Edwards thinks so.
BTW, if charisma, people skills, and body language are topics that interest you, Vanessa is someone to check out on IG (@vvanedwards) and on her website.
Vanessa’s 5 secrets to charisma:
1. Embrace imperfections.
2. Don’t be a conversational Narcissist.
3. Gush, don’t Gossip.
4. Use your hand.
5. Gaze deeply (in a not-too-creepy way, of course)
Should you work on being more charismatic?
If you want to get ahead in the world, have healthier relationships with the people in your life including your family, your kids, partners, co-workers, clients, and others you interact with, the answer is yes.
Acknowledge your social anxiety
Frequently feeling like you have nothing in common with people you socially interact with or to get tongue-tied is fine. If it’s an occasional thing and doesn’t impact your career or social life, you might never need to worry about social anxiety. But for many, social anxiety is a big deal. And in my experience, the number one problem preventing growth and resolution, for this and other problems we struggle with, is that we don’t admit to ourselves that we have the problem. It’s common to feel like there’s something wrong with you. If that’s the case, it’s natural to want to avoid the issue. But unlike so many “issues” we obsess about and shouldn’t, this one IS very important. Having good social and people skills greatly impact the quality of our lives. So, if you have social anxiety, or just wish you were less awkward in social situations, the first step is to acknowledge it! Because then the work (and growth) can begin.
Practice the habits of good listeners
If you’re socially awkward, you may try too hard. Instead of listening to what is being said, you may be busy thinking up a response… scanning your memory for the perfect anecdote, question, or story to follow up with when the other person pauses. In trying to make an impression, you aren’t listening… you’re too busy thinking.
More important than trying to appear interesting, is to BE interested. When you first start to work on social anxiety, don’t worry about talking, focus on listening. Concentrate on listening and staying out of your head. Ask questions that genuinely interest you and show enthusiasm physically. Forget about trying to suck up. It usually comes across as disingenuous, and believe me, others can tell when you’re doing it.
Besides the fact that others appreciate them and find them charismatic, good listeners have likable qualities like these that you can practice:
- They remember what you tell them. The next time you see them, they’ll ask “How was Hawaii?” because they remember from your last conversation that you were heading there.
- They never make it about them. They don’t give a lot of “I did that too” and other one-upmanships.
- Good listeners ask good questions, and you feel like it’s not just for the sake of saying something.
- They put away their phones and if they have to take a call or text, apologize and explain why they had to take it.
- They don’t correct dumb things like syntax, correct pronunciations, etc.
- Good listeners show empathy, and of course…
- Have good body language.
Stick to it
Change takes time and work like these often feel uncomfortable at first, stick to it. Unless you’re a personal development junkie like me, you may not naturally enjoy practicing new social skills or working on yourself. Focus on the payoffs—more career and social opportunities and a greater sense of life satisfaction.
Your life is worth it. You are worth it.
And, keep in mind that the process will be more enjoyable if you don’t make negative judgments about yourself, like “I’m a loser because I feel this way.” Take it from a personal development junkie, we all have something to work on!
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. She believes the way we live affects everything we do, especially our motivation.