If you stop and think about it, people with charisma tend to be good-looking. But maybe there is a chicken and egg thing going on — are they charismatic because they are good-looking or good-looking because they are charismatic?
We learned in episode #1 that charisma is about emotions and not looks. Here’s the thing, as humans, we use heuristics or short-cuts all the time to make judgments. And one of the short-cuts we make is based on how things look.
Imagine you have come into some money and are looking to buy a million-dollar house. Today you are meeting your realtor for the first time and they arrive in a Toyota Corolla with one or more hubcaps missing. Confession time, I used to drive a Toyota Corolla and from time to time a hubcap would fall off. Not sure why, but to this day if you see a Toyota Corolla on the road a lot of times a hubcap is missing. But, I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, the realtor rolls up in the Toyota Corolla. Be honest, before you even exchange hello’s, how has your impression of the realtor been affected?
Now let’s rewind and imagine the same exact situation except this time the realtor arrives in an impeccable, almost impossible shiny metallic blue Maserati? Be honest, how do you like them now?
Here’s the thing. You are a savvy house buyer so you will know in the next few weeks whether the realtor is a good realtor or not. However, you are more likely to favor them if they arrive in a nicer car. The same goes for tasting bottles of wine. Even sommeliers can be affected in experiments where they play around with the labels. Being good looking gives you what I like to call “simulated charisma.” Our brains work in a way that we give good-looking people bonus points in the game of charisma. However, good looks will only take you so far.
Good looks cannot actually create charisma — hence the term, simulated charisma.
The takeaway is that how you present yourself can make it harder or easier for your charisma to reveal itself. I’m not saying obsess over your looks, but you need to be aware of the limited extent to which it matters. Don’t make things harder for yourself. In the same way, you wouldn’t show up to an interview with a stain on your tie, don’t present yourself in a way that you know will make it harder for the person to be for you.
A final pointer is associations matter, too. The school you went to, the family you come from, the circles you move around in all have a simulated charisma effect.
Back to our realtor in the Toyota Corolla. Suppose they arrive with Richard Branson in the passenger seat. How do you like me now?