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8 Keys to Instant Charisma

Photo by Bertrand

There is a simple fact of human nature that states we all want to be liked. Don’t be afraid to admit it. If we think about it, underlying many of our actions, we are really seeking ways to validate ourselves and to fulfill this desire of being liked.

Have you ever met someone and instantly took a liking towards them? You can’t explain why, but you feel a fondness and you want to do things to help them. I’m not talking about sexual attraction, but a genuine and innocent feeling of fondness towards another person.

In a job interview, you are more likely to be hired if the interviewer likes you as a person. In a business situation, you are more likely to get deals done and gain favors. In a personal situation, you are likely to gain trust and loyal friendships.

When we decide that we like someone, it is a psychological process that we cannot quite articulate. It’s not a secret that we make decisions emotionally and justify them logically. So, does this mean that we can influence an emotional decision that happens subconsciously?

I believe that decisions can be influenced. I know that the qualities of a likeable person can be cultivated and proactively developed. Do you want to know how to develop the skills to be likable?

My Inspiration

I was helping my partner Adam prepare for an interview last night. At one point, I had explained to him the power of Mirroring and that it can make others feel more comfortable around you.

When I first heard about Mirroring, I was told that “If you’re afraid that the other person will get suspicious of you mimicking them, then you must be the type of person who thinks that people are actually listening when you’re talking.” I mentioned this and we laughed at it. I said, “Trust me, just try it out. It really works.”

We went off on another topic and he asked me a question about usability testing in software. I went on answering it, and 10 minutes went by and I was still talking. It felt as if I couldn’t stop talking.

When I finally finished covering all areas of software usability testing (including excruciating details that he would have little interest in), he burst out laughing.

So, apparently, he used mirroring on me. And it worked. What’s amazing is that it worked on me after having just told him about it. I didn’t even have a clue that he was mirroring me.

It occurred to me that like-ability can actually be cultivated, like many skills.

What are these skills?

Aside from being polite and respectful, there are several specific things we can pay particular attention to. I’m not asking you to pretend, but be aware of these things when engaged in a conversation. The little things make a big difference in how others perceive us.

1. Mirroring

This simple technique was the inspiration for this article. Mirroring is copying the other person’s physical mannerisms, movements and facial expressions when engaged in a conversation. You become a mirror image of the other person. (see Wikipedia)

Mirroring happens naturally in social interactions, but when you are conscious of it and are aware of its affects, it can be used as a tool in effective communication for generating rapport.

Mirroring someone closely will cause you to feel what they’re feeling (to some extent). I did an exercise once, in a group of three, during a workshop. One person starts by visualizing a scene; seeing, feeling and experiencing the scene. A second person imitates this person’s facial expressions and physical postures. A third person adjusts the second person’s facial expressions and physical postures until he thinks that they are identical. After several minutes, the second person explains what she was feeling. Not only does the second person feel the feelings of the first person, but will at times see what the first person is seeing in his imagination. I was blown away after trying this out, myself.

Next time you’re engaged in a conversation with someone, try mirroring body language, posture, and facial expressions. You will find that the conversation suddenly feels very friendly and open.

For example, you are sitting across the table from someone. You watch them pick up a glass of water with their left hand and gently lean forward, then to the right. You mirror them by holding your glass of water with your right hand, leaning forward and towards the left.

Try it next time … just for fun. :)

 

 

2. Remembering Names

Personally, I’m always impressed when others I’ve just met remember my name and use it in a sentence. Since birth, our parents, teachers, friends, and family, have hard wired the sound of our name in our brain. It is certain to get your attention, instantly. It makes you feel important and respected, filling our desire for attention and love.

Recall the last time someone who you just met parted by declaring “Nice to meet you, [insert your name]!” Weren’t you impressed? They are clearly interested in you enough to remember your name, and you want to show them the same respect.

Always make an effort to remember people’s names. Here are some techniques to help you.

 

3. Be Interested

People love talking about themselves, seriously.

Ask questions that the other person will enjoy answering. If it’s a complete stranger, start with the basics and dig deeper. Rephrase their words to make sure you really understand what they’re saying. You can think of this technique as verbal mirroring. By asking questions about their interests or feelings, you are mirroring their interest in themselves.

Really listen when the person is answering. Only when you are listening will you actually absorb what was said and will actually feel interested. If you run into a boring conversation, find ideas that do interest you and re-focus the conversation. Ask questions. Make it a game.

4. Allowing Others to Talk

In addition to asking questions, it’s important to allow the other person to talk. This means, stop talking. Stop talking about yourself, stop inserting your opinions, refrain from interrupting.

Next time you’re engaged in a conversation, practice not saying anything after asking a question. This might mean not speaking for several minutes *gasp*. Even when the other person appears to be finished, practice not speaking for 30 seconds. Often times, the person is still thinking, is actually pausing, and will start speaking again. By doing so, you will get a lot more depth from that person.

Many girlfriends I know have the interruption problem, myself included. Pay particular attention to this skill, you’ll be amazed at the wealth of thoughtful goodness coming from your partner. Being a patient listener is a great way to connect with and get to know people.

Try it: ask a question and then zip up. Listen and learn.

5. Intention

Send out the intention that you would like to get to know this person better, to really listen to them and to be there for them. I’m always amazed at the power of intention, which I believe is the seed for starting anything, whether it is a goal or a friendship.

Make a wish for the other person. Send out a positive intention for your interaction.

6. Offer Help

We are mostly self seeking and are driven by motivations that benefit us, with the exception of some extreme cases and parent-child relationships. But let’s face-it, we are self-seeking most of the time because it is a natural part of our survival instincts. Even if we are working on a good cause, we almost always have a reason for helping that is personally beneficial.

When others genuinely offer their help, we feel particularly fond of them. Why? Offering help is a kind gesture that implies a respect and admiration for you. And when we put ourselves in their shoes, wouldn’t it be advantageous to offer help to others?

I’m a big believer in giving more than I take in return. And my personal motto: “To get what you want, help others get what they want, first.”

Find a need that others have that you can provide. Offer help. Even just a casual email offering help will make the world of difference towards how this person feels about you.

7. Smile

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love,
a gift to that person, a beautiful thing
.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do you remember how you felt when you saw a genuine smile? Or awkwardly standing in an elevator full of strangers and suddenly someone smiles at you? It really is contagious and shifts your state to a positive one.

Smile genuinely. Start by smiling at friends. Try lifting the spirits of passing strangers.

 

8. Authenticity

Any of the above techniques will work by themselves, but become highly effective only when combined with authenticity.

Always be genuine and be your complete self, no more and no less. When you are completely honest and speaking from your heart, you will exuberate a kind of energy that people cannot help but to connect with. In that moment, you are pure, expressive, and radiating your true self. When others see and recognize that side of you, they are really seeing a reflection of that part of themselves.

Just be yourself.

Summary:

1. Mirroring
2. Remember Names
3. Be Interested
4. Allow Others to Talk
5. Intention
6. Offer Help
7. Smile
8. Authenticity

 

Which technique do you think is the most effective for being liked? Share your tips and insights in the comments.


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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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152 thoughts on 8 Keys to Instant Charisma

  1. Annie

    Nifty! I actually do some of this already. Neat-o! I should try mirroring sometime ;)

  2. Annie

    Oh, btw, I happen to do 4-8 mostly. I think being authentic is the most important, since the rest comes naturally. :) That and smiling – I smile so much that I have smile muscles!! Lol. So when I’m not smiling, I’m more inclined to be doing so anyway, regardless of the situation I’m in. XD

  3. I’m glad you put authenticity in there, Tina! To me, that’s most important. I don’t really care about absolutely everyone liking me – I don’t really give it much of a second thought, really. But I do care that I represent myself authentically in the world.

    I think if we have an open, loving and honest relationship with ourselves, it translates into the same with other people. If we are not honest with ourselves, it will read as dishonesty. If we are insecure about ourselves, people will be unsure of us. So, I think the best way to create great relationships is to be friends with ourselves first.

  4. Awesome article, I think you can add things like questioning, complimenting, kino, etc to your list. As you know, I write about this type of stuff at lifehacker.org, as well as my personal development site.

  5. aw

    Greetings from China!
    Great post.

    “Ask questions that the other person will enjoy answering.” :)
    Actually, you asked a lot of questions in your mail that I would like to answer :)

  6. Tina, great post. Very relevant and actionable items. Regarding point number eight, I wanted to bring my http://www.authenticityrules.com web site to your readers’ attention. Thanks!

    Rhett Laubach

    Author of the Personal Leadership Insight Blog – http://pliblog.yournextspeaker.com.

    Author of the Authenticity Rules Blog: http://www.authenticityrules.com.

  7. This article is awesome. I’ve bookmarked it, tumblr’d it and stumbled it :)

  8. Jeffrey Appelbaum

    Such a nice article. It really put a finger on that totally wonderful (non-sexual) attraction people, even complete strangers can have – almost like kindred spirits, but a subtle variation. Well written indeed.

  9. This reminds me of a book I once read. I believe it was called 8 Rules for making friend and influencing people. By something Napoleon. Or something along those lines…In any case check out my blog: http://escapingmaryland.blogspot.com/

  10. I really like the idea for this article. I can definitely testify that mirroring works for interviews, or even getting to know people better. It makes sense that we would related more to people who are like ourselves. (Speaking of which…;)

    I think I’m addicted to reading your blog now. :D

  11. Great post Tina, at the end of the day how genuine you are trying to connect with another determines the success of your interaction, perhaps one could master the techniques in building rapport, nonetheless we are best detector of pretence, with point 8 you’ve nailed it.

  12. Hi Tina,

    I really like to come across posts that are gentle reminders of how to be a good person. These 8 keys are so important in winning friends.

    Have a great day.

  13. Hey Tina,

    Thanks for the reminder. I should allow other people talk more. :)

  14. I naturally smile very often and I’ve experienced (through commentary from some of the strangers who meet me) that this makes me likable so I can attest to this :)

    Authenticity – yes.. nothing turns me off like a ‘fake’ person

    My hubby did teach me the importance of remembering names..

    in fact – all these tips are great

    Excellent article.. I’m actually writing something in this area so I will be sure to link this since its so useful :)

    Keep it up Tina!

  15. Great tips! I enjoy the ‘mirroring and matching’ a lot and it helps me connect easily with people. Another tip is maintaining ‘eye contact’. Nice post, Tina;-)

  16. Nice post Tina! And thanks for the heads up about the Mirroring concept. Very interesting stuff.

    I’d also add that if you’re in foreign country, putting effort to speak to locals in their own language gives you extra points too.

  17. Your 8 tips are great and well written.

    #9. confidence I believe this also goes a long way too.

  18. Hi Tina – Brilliant tips. Mirroring works well and once you get used to doing it, you tend to do it automatically.

    I like your term “verbal mirroring”. The technical word for it is paraphrasing, but verbal mirroring sounds interesting.

  19. Mirroring is something I’d never heard of. I think your page here has more useful information about it than that Wikipedia link. Reading about it, this sounds perfect for me to try. I’m profoundly hard of hearing (deaf without hearing aids and not too great with them either), but mirroring is visual, and that’s an area I’m good at.

  20. Tina, I also thought your readers would enjoy this related post on Personal Leadership Insight blog…

    http://pliblog.yournextspeaker.com/2007/07/general-influence-signals.html

    Thanks!

  21. I think authenticity is the most critical. But couple authenticity with active listening and good questions, you can be any one’s friend.

    Thanks for this post!

  22. Regarding a listening/speaking ratio:
    2 ears and 1 mouth is a rule of thumb which has worked well for me in Japan.

    Mirroring might present challenges across cultures… I once had a manager who gazed past me out the window (we were 37 floors up) for at least 5 minutes before replying. Total silence.

    And another guy (in a different meeting) got up and practiced his imaginary golf swing. Fortunately this was a 1-1 meeting and I don’t play golf lol !

    Useful post, Tina!

  23. This is a great post Tina. I will definetely come back to read some more of your postings.

    Jose,
    http://avilesnews.blogspot.com

  24. hmmm, i dont know about mirroring. It is a fact that people who have a lower social status (e.g. a employee versus his/her boss) mirror the person who has a higher status.

    so, if you start mirroring someone else, you sort off declare your lower status.

  25. This is a great post and a great blog. I’m always impressed with the content here!

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