Charisma – How Come I Have it Sometimes, and Sometimes I Don’t?

–The Charisma Chronicles: episode #4 of 10

Like fate, charisma can be fickle. Or at least it can seem to be.

Ever notice how someone can have so much charisma in one setting and then have none in another? Changing towns, schools or jobs can be an opportunity to reinvent yourself or for the formerly popular, it can be a rude awakening.

What is going on?

There are two scenarios where someone will be perceived as having charisma.

Scenario #1: Circumstantial Charisma

You lucky dog. Guess what? The room, company or relationship you are in just happens to totally love the way you are. The stars have aligned and you are giving that person exactly what they need from an emotional standpoint. Here’s the rub. You are a just being you and the the pieces just happen to fit. In other words, if someone needed something different, you wouldn’t be able to recognize it or perhaps you would, but you would just go on doing you.

People with Circumstantial Charisma are only charismatic when the situation they are in fits them perfectly.

Scenario #2: Bona Fide Charisma

How do you pronounce that, anyway? Bona figh? Bona fee-day? I can never remember. But, I digress. You are a shapeshifter. Not only can you sense what others need, you can adapt to provide people exactly what they need from an emotional perspective. You are still you, but you can shift gears, unlike the person with only Circumstantial Charisma. If you think about it, on a smaller scale, we do this all the time. Or we should. You don’t talk to a child, a stranger, a family member and a boss in exactly the same way. In the same way may be adjustments for a person’s language abilities and our social relationships with them, a person with Bona Fide Charisma makes adjustments to give whoever they are with the emotion that they need.

I know you probably have questions. Allow to address the two most common ones.

Q1: “Emotion that they need? What does that even mean?”

Think about someone you need who is going through a rough patch. Depending on that exact moment you are with them, they could need a few different things emotionally. Support. Kindness,. Inspiration. Acceptance. Levity.

Now imagine you bring to them, through the way you are and the way you interact with them, exactly what they need. Not what you are good at delivering and not what you think they should have, but what they need. That is charisma.

Each person, each situation, each moment may require one of a myriad of things. It’s not about asking a person what they need either. It is you sensing and knowing, perhaps before they do, what it is they need and then delivering it. It’s like the Henry Ford quote below and Steve Job adopted a similar approach for his customers.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

—Henry Ford

Q2: “Are you proposing we just give people whatever they want and forget about ourselves? That sounds pathetic, not charismatic!”

What you are saying makes a lot of sense. The difference here is we are talking about moving someplace together and you are leading. So it is not about taking orders or being the perfect servant and figuring out what they want before they know what it is. It’s about the best place for the both of you to go together and this means who you are and what you bring goes into the mix and ends up creating the final destination.

Here is the key.

When you are deeply connected to someone and are open to your own authentic self, you don’t have to think about what to do. You will just know what to do and what you do will be charismatic.


Joe Kwon
Joe Kwon
JOE, the Connection Counselor is the host of the "Why It Works" podcast and author of the "Unlock Your" series of books. Whether coaching busy professionals or inspiring audiences, his goal is to help you unlock the best version of yourself. A student of Aikido, self-help book junkie, and shaved head proponent, Joe spends magical summers at Hogwarts and dreams of kokyunage. He is the founder of JoeKwonJoe Coaching, which focuses on teaching universal principles through embodied learning. Joe holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and lives in New Jersey with his family. Joe’s first book, Unlock Your Charisma includes a ground-breaking definition of charisma that finally reveals the actual mechanism that generates charisma. If you can’t explain how something works, you can’t get more of it! Read more about it in his ThriveGlobal article: How to Develop Charisma — for real.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. I truly enjoyed reading your post Joe.. thank you most kindly.
    Charisma is one of those things that people assume you’re born with, but that’s not necessarily the case. Regardless of your personality type, it’s entirely possible to become more likable and develop your charisma. The key is to focus on certain traits you can practice and apply to your own behavior that can possibly make you seem more magnetic, trustworthy, and influential.
    Charisma is about what you say and do as opposed to who you really are as a person. Your subconscious, social cues, physical expression and the way you treat others all play a part in developing your charisma.

    I read of a story about Marilyn Monroe. During a very busy time of day, Monroe brought a photographer with her into Grand Central Station in New York City. People were everywhere, yet no one seemed to recognize one of the most famous people in the world. She boarded a train and quietly rode to the next station without anyone noticing. Monroe was trying to prove a point:
    “What Marilyn wanted to show was that just by deciding to, she could either be glamorous Miss Monroe or plain Norma Jean Baker (her real name). On the subway, she was Norma Jean, but when she resurfaced on to the busy New York sidewalks, she decided to turn into Marilyn. So she looked around and she teasingly asked the photographer, “So, do you want to see her? The Marilyn?” And then, he said, there were no grand gestures, she just fluffed up her hair and struck a pose. And yet, with this simple shift, she suddenly became magnetic. An aura of magic seemed to ripple out from her and everything stopped. Time stood still, as did the people around her, who stared in amazement as they suddenly recognized a star standing in their midst…”
    Make no doubt, Marilyn Monroe had beauty on her side, but she wanted to prove that charisma is something you create and emanate, not something you’re merely born with. Your goal here is to find the Marilyn Monroe inside of your Norma Jean Baker. It’s there, but you have to work to find it.
    Keep in mind, however, that you need to be a little brave. Developing charisma is a process that involves looking at the things you do under a microscope. You might not always like what you see, but don’t beat yourself up over it. If you keep your expectations in check, you’ll be able to identify the behaviors you need to adjust. Remember, you’re not changing who you are as a person, you’re only changing the way people perceive you by fine tuning your outward communication.