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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. Wow, this is a phenomenal post! I have learned so much!

  2. “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love,
    a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
    ~ Mother Teresa
    I adore this quote, as a matter of fact.. i adore this post. its true and very insightful !

  3. Wonderful post. I think your last bullet “Authenticity” is the most important. When people are being genuine and honest, the other 1-7 points usually occur naturally. I just found your website today and have spent a few hours reading your posts. I’ve signed-up and I look forward to future posts!


  4. A handy article, thanks for sharing it. I am not sure where Jaroslav got the idea that people in Britain don’t like to be liked though.

  5. Mi

    The best technique is to smile genuinely!

  6. Rick Hyman

    Wow! I’ve been mirroring for years now and I never knew that it was an actual technique of any sort! I just referred to it as copying others. You should also add to your guide I may warn, that if you do this to a certain person too often they will start to catch on and realize you are taking their actions and sayings for the benefit of your own character.

    In one case a guy I know started to realize I did this and I kind of idolized him, but it got to a point where he started to think that I was wearing the same kinds of clothing. Thats just ludicrous.

  7. Tina, I cannot smile to a person just because it’s needed. Mirroring is a great method to make smb like you but Ithink it’s no so easy

  8. Very good post. I feel like I’m great at communicating however find it hard to bump into people I know, chat a little and end the conversation. What is the best way to end a conversation?


    “I don’t want to hold you much longer. It was great chatting with you. Have a beautiful day!” :)


  9. Misty

    Do you think we can ‘fake’ this until we master it? Also how do you be confident around people you find really attractive but don’t feel as though you meet their standard of attractiveness?

  10. That quote from Mother Teresa was beautiful!

    Thanks for the mirroring tips. Might be less relevant in an interview though, with some interviewers taking a very relaxed approach, leaning back in their chairs, crossing their arms while listening etc

  11. I think that it’s nice and “kind” advice but off the mark.

    IMO The keys to charisma are
    1) The confidence to speak with such authority that, for that moment, you believe it.
    2) Not caring what other people think about you. (That makes you a cool rebel.)
    3) A personal sense of power and control that allows others around you to feel safe in your presence and do what you tell them.

    That’s charisma.

    ~ Dantalion Jones

  12. dan

    You have definately pin-pointed the most effective elements of holding a fun or enjoyable conversation. However, I would like to point out that there is a sort of limit on how much interest we should show in conversations and interactions, i mean that since we all like to be shown interest by others we have to leave in some room for the intensely charismatic people to show interest. somewhat shy people and those who try to evade conversations trigger a subconscious curiosity in almost everybody, we have a sort of need to please or get these types of people’s attention.

    Very few people that have ever existed have shown true, intense charisma. Personally, my opinion of true charisma is a complete combination of all social skills. These include; the ability to make everybody associated with you feel very special, the ability for everybody to “feel” your presence and show leadership when you enter a room or group conversation, like your point of authenticity, charismatic people have a divine and completely origional personality and are able to be completely true to themselves. Also, charismatic people usually have the ability to make their enemies feel very uncomfortable and will be able to out-wit most people who have a dislike for them.

    I just thought i’d share my views, which are similar to your own. Your article was very informative and has definately given me new perspectives. You have a fantastic understanding of this subject.

  13. Johannes

    Hi there!

    Just wanted to let you know that you have a very inspiring blog! I am in a stage in my life where I think alot of my self as a person and how I could improve as a human. The last days have been a great deal of thinking on my future etc. I felt a bit down because I only saw the problem, not the solution. But then I stumbled in to your blog by accident and my vision cleared! =)

    Looking forward to be reading more from you!

    Regards, Johannes

  14. mirroring fanatic

    What happens when both people are mirroring? is it some sort of infinite positive feedback loop that’s caused? do both people eventually start to convulse?

  15. Ken

    Tip: if I’m having a hard time with putting on a genuine smile, I think of my baby nephew playing with his toy trains.

  16. I find myself starting to talk when someone stops and then obviously theyre still thinking as you said and I end up interrupting them when they start talking them just as I start, and I never realized till now nor just how much I do it!

    Thank you for the awesome blogposts!

  17. Pili

    I see that, in reality, people tend to like those who are full of themselves and lie to them. Just sayin’…

  18. Pili

    I think that Dantalion Jones hit it closer to the mark.

    I DO appreciate the article. I think that it should be correct, theoretically, but just doesn’t happen like that in reality. Some aspects ARE right on, such as smiling.

  19. ImJustJane

    I would love to vote for you on Digg, but every time I go there, I am shunted to one page and another without ever landing on a voting page, so I’ve given you up for now. :(


  20. Victoria

    Funny, not to brag, but I already do 1-7 heh heh, I will try my best at Aunthenticity. However, truthfully, I think my TRUE self is a little…misunderstood.

  21. Jose

    A Charismatic can change between the two types. They just need more self-confidence and they can become some of the greatest / worst people in the world haha!

  22. riaz

    overall , this is a very good article.
    But I wonder how I can mirror a person who has a negative frame of mind.

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