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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. YoNoid

    How about not copying Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” next time?

  2. The techniques you suggest work. (I used to use them in my work as a psychotherapist in order to gain my clients’ trust.) But I am left with a sense of unease if people use them in ordinary encounters. Because – if the intention of the interaction is to be liked – then a slick interaction carries a tinge of manipulation.

    I meet many people with polished communication skills on conferences and at other gatherings. They have the firm hand-shake and the eye-to-eye look. They have my name down pat, ask me open-ended questions and seem really interested in me. But they are really sophisticated salespeople who are selling… themselves.

    I reckon that interactions only offer genuine, heart-felt pleasure if our motive for using all those useful techniques is that we truly care about the other person, want to put them at ease, and desire to be their friend.

  3. This is fantastic advise but… uh… for the more socially inept of us #8 completely contradicts #1-#7. We need to be LESS like ourselves, and more like what the first seven keys suggest. :)

  4. I mean not all of us! But for a tiny minority of people people being “authentic” means doing none of the other suggestions. In fact, explicitly violating them all.

  5. Viper

    This article is great advice.

    However, the real challenge is when dealing with a tough audience.

    What about when the person across from you is a real jerk and has just insulted you ??? Hmmm… What about that?

    Its not always easy to ignore the insult and “put on a happy face”.

    Many people in western society think its “cool” to be abrasive (like Don Rickles). I’ve always had a problem with keeping my cool with people who ridicule other people for sport.

    But it is a valuable skill to be able to keep your rapport with people, dumbasses included, despite whatever poor behavior they are up to.



    Hi Viper,

    Of course, we always want to use our common sense when dealing with people, especially difficult people. You don’t want to add oil on fire, nor do you want to pretend and compromise your ‘dignity’ by “putting on a happy face”. You want to be firm and respectful, calm and understanding. Remember, energy is a two way street, when others see you calm and centered, they’ll gravitate towards that (even just a little).


  6. jd

    But can’t we just use our baby-blue eyes? ;)

    For building rapport, I try to first find at least one thing I admire about the person and I focus on that. I think of them as my mentor. It’s simple but effective.

    There are no difficult people, just difficult behaviors — and we all show them now and then (… catch me on a bad hair day.)

    For dealing with your critics, finding a way to agree takes the wind out of their sails and you learn something along the way. (people just want to be heard and appreciated — don’t take it personally — it’s not all about you)

  7. Emma

    Thanks a lot Tina for this inspiring article.

  8. M

    Am I the only not enthralled by this?

    You know… I’ve been really concentrating on doing 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and a dash of 8 for the past few years. I pay very close attention so that they steer the conversation with the occasional prompts and questions. I always am really interested in having to hear what people say. But, I have yet to make a new ‘close’ friend… just a couple of acquaintances I occasionally talk with and plenty of people who seem to not want much to do with me (I have to put all the effort into trying to make a new friend… and after one or two meetings things just die).

    I know I am doing the above list fairly well because in my work like I am surrounded by people who absolutely do _not_ do it, and it really gets on my nerves.

  9. LL

    Great tips. I’ll definitely incorporate them into my daily interactions.

  10. Jef

    Nice post..KEEP IT UP !!

  11. I would say that a simple smile and remembering somebody’s name is the most important.
    Probably because so few people do it. That is why we dont “ooze” charisma. And kudoes to the charisma oozer! Blow your horn, nobody else will. Cockiness to a certain extent is another charismatic characteristic. People are drawn to those who are confident.
    I also like that Left Eye poster’s comments. I wonder if that singer Lisa “Left Eye”, gave herself that monniker because of the charisma factor.
    Tina: I had gotten good at remembering names for about a month, and now I’m sliding again. I need to re-read your post.

  12. You’ve put together an impressive list, Tina…

    For me, the two big ones (maybe because I have the most trouble with them) are to remember names, and to listen w/o interrupting. These two things really make a huge difference.

    The other really big one is to make it a point to personally say hi and acknowledge others, no matter what their position is. This is something that big bosses in large corporations sometimes forget: be nice to the little guy.

    If you observe all the really successful people, they all come across as very approachable and upbeat and always make people feel special (that’s why politicians shake hands and kiss babies every time they have a chance). The key, though, is to do it genuinely…

  13. Gerald Hand


    This article is dead on. As a sales professional, I have learned to mirror my customers, and use the Carnegie approach, to get to know my customers. But I think a friend of mine, Roger Cameron, a professional recruiter said it best: “Be interested, not interesting”.

    By that he means ask questions about your counterpart, and try not to discuss your merits. When you part company, you will know a lot about them and they will think you are the best person in the world.

    Mirroring, for me, takes it a step further, and lets me treat the potential customer as they want to be treated. Some are chatty while others are more to the point, so I am able to tailor a presentation to meet their expectations.

  14. Hi Tina! Great stuff!! After reading this article, I just realised that my one-year old son actually practises mirroring. He did it to father by mirroring my dad’s crooked smile. No wonder everyone thinks he’s adorable!!:)

  15. Hey Tina!
    This blog was a good reminder for me to refresh my social interaction skills. I’m glad you put in authenticity, it truly magnifies all the rest :D

  16. I like your mention of authenticity. This reminds us we are who we are, regardless of what other people think, criticize or perceive. To me, being honest, choosing to love and accept everything about myself, is what is fundamental to feeling good. External approval or rejection doesn’t have to change how I feel. Its a process of being willing to give up the control of the ego-mind and moving away from separation to feeling connected to all that you are.

  17. Tina, thanks for your post. I enjoy the mirroring tip! I tend to use point 4 letting others talk. I am a curious person and find myself asking lots of questions. I am a “seeker” of information….LOL

  18. Elizabeth

    DEFINITELY smiling. When someone flashes me an authentic smile, I am more willing to go over and talk to them & continue talking to them because smiles give out a certain safeness. Like, when I see someone smiling, I don’t feel like they will judge me or are thinking what a loser I am.

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