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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. The Boss

    These are techniques for social and interpersonal manipulation–perfectly legitimate and very helpful in the right hands–and well described in a practical manner in this article. Charisma, however, is a whole different ballgame, and the author has failed (as everyone else who has tried) to give it a feasible conception.

  2. Leanne

    A comment on the subject of interruption. Often as a school girl, I was told that I was too quiet, I should jump into conversations more, that “being quiet was not going to make friends with people.” I would counter with the fact that most groups of girls do not let me get a word in edgewise, and then I was *instructed* to interrupt.

    This is what girls are taught is acceptable.

    The practice of allowing myself to be interrupted, however, has followed me into adulthood, but whereas most people feel slighted at being interrupted have no problem with doing the interrupting themselves. Hard-wired body language, maybe? Or a common wide-spread epidemic of double standards? Not sure. But I do find all of your information very helpful, and, not condoning interruptions, but sharing as to why girls tend to do it more.

  3. Hey Tina,

    Have others instantly like you by genuinely listening, understanding, respecting, and/or appreciating them.

    People love themselves more than anybody else (with the exception of some mothers). We all want to be understood and appreciated.

    When others see our viewpoint and understand what we do and believe–even if they don’t agree with it–we instantly like that person. We feel that they’re not judging, and we can be comfortable around them while knowing they’re not looking down on us.

    Great list of instant charisma tips. One of these techniques I wasn’t even conscious of (mirroring), I’ll start consciously trying it out,

  4. You have sumarized it very well. Thank you!

  5. While some great leaders have been charismatic, charisma is not a necessary ingredient for great leadership. Charisma is a by-product of personality predisposition and socialization, which can be a rare combination. That’s the good news! If society had to rely on pure charisma to advance its cause, its cause would be dead. Acronyms and quick quips may be tools used by charismatic personalities, but they don’t lead to becoming more charismatic–just the appearance of it. Patterns of charismatic personalities usually entail early social ostracizing, a sense of mission built on a perceived injustice, ego and an inquisitive nature steeped in recreating reality. This is a far cry from standing erect, smiling confidently and remaining calm under pressure. If the manifestation of charisma made people charismatic, it would be a simple process and then charisma wouldn’t be so rare.

    Edward S. Brown
    Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute

  6. Nomso

    Authenticity…..that is the best and the highest means of attracting people to yourself.

  7. Mark

    What a great article, really. This is one of those things I wish I could have read 20 years ago. I wonder how much different my life would be today if I did.

  8. Excellent LukeB

    awesome tips here on charisma thanks a lot for sharing.

  9. Mirroring is an excellent, time proven way to gain rapport with another person! In addition to mirroring their body language, it also helps to speak in a similar tone (tonality) and to engage them with a comfortable level of eye contact. I find that it helps to think of “mirroring” as a kind of “dance” in which the people involved fall in step with one another in a manner which is pleasant and unforced. Be sure not to mimic the other person, but rather do something like match their arm movements with small hand gestures, their body movements, by your head movements, this is called cross-over mirroring and it is highly effective without being noticeable in such a way to be interpreted as offensive.

  10. Mike

    Mirroring is annoying. I ask people to stop it when they do that to me. I also do not care for people repeating my name a dozen times over 4 sentences.

    #4 is probably the most and only thing we should be doing.

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