The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

The Charisma Myth

Summary

  1. Olivia Fox Cabane succinctly lays out what exactly being charismatic entails and how anyone can become more charismatic. Useful for anybody from any walk of life
Key Takeaways
  1. The myth is that charismatic people are simply born that way. It takes work but people can acquire charismatic traits but it is important that you choose what suits your personality as well as the situation you’re currently in
  2. People automatically, almost magically drawn to charismatic people and want their approval. They influence everyone around them
  3. 3 essential characteristics of charismatic people – presence, power and warmth
  4. People follow more willingly and take ownership of whatever they’re focused on
  5. Charisma is not inborn; it can be learned and turned on and off. It is a combination of body language and nonverbal cues
  6. We immediately and instinctively try to asses others power and incentives when we meet them (if they like you)
  7. Charismatic people have high power and high warmth. They have a presence – completely present and focused on you or the situation on hand
  8. Make others feel great about themselves
  9. Can be a charismatic introvert
  10. Charisma tips – lower intonation of voice, reduce how often you nod, wait two seconds before speaking
What I got out of it
  1. Lots of great tips and will be something I refer back to a lot. Getting along well with others and being a good leader is essential ub nearly any walk of life and this book helps you get there.

Read The Charisma Myth

1 – Presence, Power and Warmth
  • Be completely present and don’t let mind wander
  • Exercise – meditate to improve presence, focus only on sounds for one minute, then breathe, then focus on the sensation in the toes
  • Don’t need to spend a ton of time with someone but must be present entire time
  • Power – being able to affect world around us – social status, money, strength
  • Warmth – good will towards others. Try to determine if person can use their power to help us. Almost all body language and behavior
  • People tend to accept what you project
  • Judging warmth and power is ingrained and done immediately and automatically
  • Body language accounts for 75% of messages we send
  • Charisma a mental state and then charismatic body language will follow
  • Charismatic people tend to have high internal and external skills but low technical skills
  • Mind can’t tell difference between fact and fiction – what you believe will be true and body will respond accordingly
  • Placebo effect huge
  • Obstacles for reaching charisma – physical discomfort leads to tension and effects body language and can be misconstrued, food and comfort important and should be taken into account
  • Be very aware of facial tension and if can’t avoid it just explain (sun in eyes)

2- Mental Discomfort

  • Mental discomfort – anxiety caused by uncertainty, ability to handle uncertainty is one of the best predictors of success
  • Best way to mitigate tension caused by uncertainty is through responsibility transfer – Lie down and take deep breaths and pick an entity and lift all struggle off shoulder and put into entity’s shoulders. They bear all responsibility and there is a plan in place which will work out
  • Be wary of comparing experience or situation as this lowers presence
  • Be aware of self criticism and self doubt
  • Impostor syndrome universal and more prevalent amongst high performers – afraid that somebody will expose them and say they don’t really know what they’re doing

4 – How to Overcome Obstacles

  • 3 step process
    • De-stigmatize discomfort – understand it is normal to feel the negative emotions
    • Neutralize negativity – realize thoughts can be completely wrong
    • Rewrite reality – need to find positivity in any situation and write down as specifically as possible
  • Shame has a devastating effect on our confidence and charisma. Fear of being an outcast or not accepted
  • Exercises – Look at people longer than expected, stand closer or farther from people than used to, speak to random people

5 – Creating Charismatic Mental States

  • Visualization very helpful in getting into proper mental state And from there body language will flow naturally
    • Must be very specific visualization
    • Adding movement to either visualization or audio cues helps even more
    • Repeating certain mantras helpful too – this too shall pass, love the confusion, will this matter in a year?
    • Visualize smiles and applause and handshakes after you’re done presenting something you’re nervous about
  • Wise brain bulletin – shares useful ways to be successful in your work, relationships, life, etc.
  • Hugs hugely lower anxiety
  • Gratitude, goodwill and compassion extremely important for your happiness and for getting along with others – warmth
  • Need to feel warmth for self first and foremost
  • Gratitude – can focus on things physically present or look at self through a third person perspective And write them down. Scan pleasant sights and appreciate them
  • Visualizing own funeral opens up self to warmth and gratitude
  • Goodwill (wishing others well) portrays warmth and elicits it in others as well.
  • Find 3 things you like in others, visualize others have angel wings, love all as much as you can, be empathetic, sympathetic and compassionate
  • Self confidence, self esteem and self compassion vital
  • Respond with kindness to self when going through tough time and realize everyone feels this way at some point
  • Meta Buddhism practice develops kindness towards all beings
  • Can use body positions to change mind as emotions and actions are linked – positive superman stance with hands on hip (pair with Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language)
  • Will power is limited so making good habits is so important

6 – Different Charisma Styles

  • Focus – presence and power (Elon Musk). Huge in business and important to feel like everybody has something they can teach you
  • Visionary – belief and confidence (Steve Jobs). People always looking for something solid to hold on to and visionaries give this even if product doesn’t yet exist. Power and warmth. Message matters and shed all doubt. Good for inspiring others
  • Kindness – warmth and confidence (Dalai Lama). Complete acceptance of others. Need some power or else will be seen as subservient. Good for creating emotional bonds and dealing with difficult people
  • Authority – status and confidence (Colin Powell). Most powerful of all forms  and person is seen as very powerful and can effect our world – body language, appearance, title and others reactions. Get listened to by others but often too intimidated to share their true feelings and therefor need to also be warm. Good for business and in crises
  • Determining situation and which style will work best is very important
  • Own personality and goals and situation also super important
    • Be comfortable with own style and be the best version of you that you can be
    • Be able to adapt between the different styles

7- Charismatic First Impressions

  • First impressions are made in a split second and are very tough to change 
  • People like people who are similar to themselves
  • Clothing first thing judged and if similar or professional can help you a lot. Dress to impress within proper environment (startup more informal…)
  • Handshakes extremely important and improves interaction
  • Good ways to start conversation – compliment something they’re wearing and ask what it’s story is. Ask where they’re from- what was it like growing up there
  • Exit conversation with grace – give some tidbit of knowledge, offer a connection or visibility, recognition or some sort of value
  • If need to leave one person in group behind, give them extra eye contact so they don’t feel left out
  • People will only remember how somebody made you feel

8- Speaking and Listening With Charisma

  • Charismatic listening:
    • Charismatic people listen better than anyone – be present and pay attention to what other person is saying, don’t interrupt, don’t let mind wander
    • Rarely, if ever, interrupt and get others to talk as much as possible
    • Pause for a second before answering and others will feel like you’re truly listening
    • Facial reaction, pause, answer
  • Charismatic speaking:
    • Even if unfair, people associate you with a certain feeling so make sure that feeling is positive
    • Take a compliment and don’t downplay it – stop, absorb the compliment and show them it means a lot and thank them
    • Make everybody feel like they’re the most interesting person in the room
    • Speak in pictures as often as possible (visual metaphors) and as sensory rich as possible
    • Whenever you ask anyone for anything they are giving up some scarce resource , usually time, so make it worthwhile for them
    • Voice fluctuations are very important – record self saying same thing with different emotions and fluctuations to see how effective you sound vs how effective you think you sound
    • Power – speak slowly, pause, drop intonation at end of a sentence, breathe deeply
    • Warmth – smile while speaking
    • Presence – direct words at people and speak slowly

9- Charismatic Body Language

  • In high stakes situations, react more strongly to how something is being said than what (nonverbal cues)
  • Leaders, especially charismatic leaders, have the most emotional contagion and is why great leaders are necessary for great business/causes
  • Mirroring others will have them like you more – be selective, have some lag in order to not be too obvious
  • People have different levels of personal space and it is very important to pay attention to
  • Eye contact extremely important and necessary for charisma
  • Be aware if feel tension in eyes and try to relax
  • Powerful body language takes up space
  • Composed and powerful people have a higher level of stillness. No fidgeting, less nodding, less “uh huh” 
  • Aim to get comfortable with silence

10- Difficult Situations

  • Easier to win people over individually than when in a group
  • Franklin Effect – if someone does a favor for you they are more likely to like you as they see you as someone they’re willing to help
    • Asking for someone’s opinion helps them like you
  • People strive and hunger for praise and appreciation
  • When dealing with difficult people who are hostile imagine them with angel wings or that something terrible just happened to them in order to induce empathy
  • When delivering bad news or criticism, be very specific, give solutions and do not make it personal – judge the behavior, not the person 
  • Like Franklin, deny yourself the pleasure of proving others wrong or contradicting them
  • Being present on the phone even more important as you can’t use other cues to show people you’re paying attention
  • Express appreciation and be empathetic

11- Presenting with Charisma

  • Combine different forms of charisma and know exactly who your audience is and the message you want to convey
  • Be dramatic and use images and analogies to tell an enticing story
  • Do not end with Q&A since this is typically low energy and people recall first and last things most vividly
  • Know speech so well that it becomes muscle memory, can do it literally with your eyes closed
  • Video tape speech beforehand and remove unneeded movements and nonverbal gestures 
  • Have a wide stable stance, walk around and do not stand behind a podium and find right volume
  • Pause, breathe and slow down during your speech 
  • Before starting your speech, wait 3 seconds and survey your audience. Make them not be able to wait for your speech. After you finish, wait a second, say thank you and accept applause
  • If tense, check body for where exactly tense, breathe deeply and relax and visualize a calming scene, find little things to be grateful for, get a hug, think of a moment of absolute triumph
  • Make the speech about the audience. VERY important 
  • Give speech at actual venue if possible and visualize yourself giving speech and it being great
  • Speech should have 3-5 main points with each supported by a funny and memorable anecdote 
  • These factors matter more in a crisis and will help you make better decisions in the heat of the moment
  • Check physiology often, handle internal negativity, rewrite reality and view situation positively, responsibility transfer, express high expectations, articulate your vision well (way things are now vs how they could/should be)
  • In times of crisis people follow leaders who are bold, confident and decisive
  • Faith, vision and authority so important in times of crisis

13- The Charismatic Life

  • All forms of charisma have negatives as well
    • Compensate for charisma to quell envy – refuse, reflect or transfer glory
  • Make people feel like they’re part of your success and they’ll love you for it
  • JALIR email. Reaching out to people and thanking them for their help or advice in your success. An envy reduction technique
  • Kindness charisma sometimes makes people open up too much to you. Keep this in check and let them know they don’t have to share more than they need to
  • Show vulnerability and it will humanize you and make people like you more since they can relate to you

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