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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.


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. Ramble

    I do all these because it was required of me as a kid – I was constantly moving and so developed techniques to help make friends quicker. I’m actually rather suprised I’m reading about them here. However, mirroring and having an interest are definately the most important you can do. People love themselves, so mirror them and you’ll get on well.
    Don’t bother with the physical actions as much, but concentrate on mannerisms and behavior/attitudes to things and they’ll love you instantly.

  2. JE

    Well written and thought out article that is very inspiring, thank you. You mentioned a workshop you did with some other people, I’d be interested to know more about that. Was it a workshop specifically geared towards improving your Charisma or personality? Thanks Again!



    It was the “Unleash The Power” within by Tony Robbins. I took in April of 2007. It was a blastful 4 days of intense material learning about many aspects of our lives.

  3. qma

    Good read again.

    I would like add one more to the list. Assume the best of a person, that is, live with a positive assumption.

  4. there are also generally 2 types of charismatics

    1. type has a strong vision and no hope of doing it on their own, but their passion exhibits the vulnerability that they need help to move it forwards, for without your very obvious help they can not do it. you help because its a great vision and they NEED you.

    2. this type is so capable that you want to tag along and learn from them in the hopes that you can find your own insights. this is a different group that is the charismatic DOERS. they probably tend to ignore people more, not because they are mean, but because they are so busy doing.

  5. I think getting a girlfriend would be a big way to boost your self-confidence and get some charisma. Anyways, good post!

  6. Authenticity! Yeah… I think I can fake that.

    Actually, great article. Very helpful insights. I have tried mirroring in a job interview and it does seem to work.

  7. hudson

    this is totally dead on, but what it really comes down to is paying attention. so many people i know think they have amazing social skills, but everyone gets tired of them after a while, because it becomes clear that they’re only waiting for their chance to speak, and they aren’t really there in the conversation. you don’t have to fake it either. if you pay attention, you’ll find people worth paying attention to, and you’ll end up with more interesting friends, who you’re willing to listen to. word.

  8. wow this is truly wonderful advise right here.
    I’ve been aware of the powers of mirroring for a while and have had the chance to try it successfully in many occasions but not as often as I should have wanted because there’s many people I’ve met that I would like to know more about and simply lost touch with. Using some of these techniques would have helped to a deeper relationship I’m sure.

    But it’s never too late, I will take this advise once again when I meet new people. I really liked to be reminded to smile to strangers…

  9. pua

    Whilst some of the information here is partially true, much of it makes little difference at all. It certainly does not constitute towards Charisma!

    It’s ALL about body language, and building attraction.

    Charisma is instant attraction often only through body language.

  10. Mark

    You can moderate this comment and keep it from appearing if you want, but I felt the content of this list was extremely generic and recycled. I’ve been reading similar ‘How to get people to like you’ articles like this for years.

  11. Tina, I used to never remember people’s names. They’d say it, and then a few seconds later I had completely forgotten (if I even heard them in the first place). And then after some time it gets really awkward to ask again, so you just hope that someone else will say their name so you don’t have to ask.

    A few years ago I started writing down people’s names. Sometimes this meant asking them how to spell it if it was a foreign name. Of course writing something down means you won’t forget it, but I find that just knowing I’m going to write it down means I’m forced to listen and try to remember, and often that’s enough.

  12. These are all great points and I try to use many of them. Now, I’m going to try to incorporate the rest.

    Here’s one more.

    Some people have trouble making eye contact during conversations. However, if you are capable of doing this, look into the person’s LEFT eye. Psychological studies show this makes most people more comfortable with you and often also increase your attractiveness to them.

    It works even better if you look at them, focusing with your own left eye.

    So, if you look at them left eye to left eye, mirror them, remember their name, and smile, they are going to think you’re George Clooney (or some female equivalent).

  13. Andy

    An interesting piece and I totally agree that authenticity is the most important aspect of all, always be yourself. This actually conflicts with mirroring a bit though, in my opinion, if you do it deliberately. As you say, mirroring happens naturally in many social situations and knowing about it is very useful – but what is actually happening when mirroring occurs is that one party is (consciously or unconsciously) becoming subserviant to the other. I.e. the person doing the mirroring is taking on a submissive role compared to the originator’s dominant role. Now, this is not necessarily bad and obviously has its advantages in some situations, particularly for women (pander to men’s egos and you will get whatever you want :), but for men it is a finer line to walk. Generally I want others to perceive me as a leader and not a follower, so I go out of my way not to mirror people in most situations.

  14. jaroslav levov

    Actually the wish to be liked is quite uncommon in Britain.

  15. I suppose this is obvious but to prevent disappointment it might be good to clarify that mirroring needs to be subtle. If someone realizes (s)he is being mirrored (s)he is likely to become suspicious and irritated.

    Something not mentioned in the list, that I personally have difficulty with, is building rapport…through common interests and agreement…”people like people like themselves”. I don’t have “pop” tastes in music, entertainment, don’t watch television (ever–no time, no television, no interest), and have no interest in politics except insofar as it impacts me. If I had any brains I think I should be able to come up with positive comments about OTHER people’s interests, without actually sharing them (or pretending to share them and then looking bad when it becomes obvious that I am not conversant on the topic to any real depth).



    Hi Atash,

    I am similar to you in that sense: I don’t have “pop” tastes in music, entertainment, don’t watch television, and have no interest in politics.

    What I do is just start talking to people and see where the conversation goes. I don’t talk about TV, Music, Pop Culture or Politics. Start asking what they do for a living, then ask, “Are you happy?” and just listen to them. If they have kids, you can ask about their kids or other parts of their lives that they love.

    Even when people talk about politics, I just listen, I don’t need to be interested in politics to be interested in the person and to enjoy their self expressions. I love it when I can get people to talk about something that they are passionate about, it doesn’t matter what it is, if they are genuinely interested in something, they’ll carry a kind of attractive energy that’s contagious.

    Look for things you can adore and admire about a person, and everyone has this. When people are speaking from their heart, there’s a kind of innocence that radiates from their Being, and that’s beautiful to watch.


  16. jesamina

    I’m going to make a taboo statement: I ooze charisma.

    I’ve been like this since I was a small child. People instantly like me and want to tell me their secret problems. I am able to talk anyone into anything I believe in. I’m great at motivating people. I can reduce my husbands blood pressure by ten points just by sitting with him for ten minutes and talking about nothing in particular. Animals adore me. The people at our stables call me a “horse whisperer” (though I am not a real one) because I can make neurotic horses relax.

    How? It’s like you said, first of all I am authentic. I trust myself. I am humble. I don’t need to talk about myself much. I like to listen to other peoples’ stories. It is easy to make me laugh. I will work to make a grumpy person smile. I believe being able to offer safe port is important.

    The strange thing is, while it is okay to talk about insecurities all you want in Online communities, it is taboo to say, “I ooze charisma.” or “I am confident and beautiful”. Stops conversation dead in its tracks.

  17. Mirroring? Are you kidding me?

    Real charisma comes from within oneself. If you are principled, ethical and truly happy inside, then it will show outside and influence everyone consciously and subconsciously.

    Mimicking someone is not a higher level of communication, expressing your true inner essence, no matter how different, is the real deal.

    Don’t try to use external monkey moves, work on your true self!

  18. A most inspiring article, thanks!!!

  19. Adrianna

    Lifehacker linked to a great site on this topic the other week:

  20. JB

    The majority of the principles sound strangely familiar to Dale Carnegie’s, “How to win friends and influence people”, but it was nice to read nonetheless.

  21. My problem is that I’m not consistent with the charisma keys.
    I really liked how you summarized it all again at the end, like an essay.
    I’m going to totally abscond that idea…thanks Tina.

  22. It’s all so true! Especially the one about remembering names. I’m always impressed by people with that talent…its something I need to work on, Sheena….Trina…, ;-)

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