Why is Charisma so Elusive – And How Do You Get More?

–The Charisma Chronicles: episode #1 of 10

What’s the one thing we could all use more of?

I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it, too — “more cowbell!” Okay, that’s definitely #1. So let me ask again, what is the #2 thing we could all use more of? Coming in at a close second would be more charisma. Like Will Ferrell’s sweet moves, it’s easy to imitate, but not so easy to produce the same intangible genius of the original.

Which leads me to ask, why is charisma so elusive? Ask 10 people what charisma is and all of them will tell you about behaviors or traits of charismatic people or how it makes them feel. No one can seem to put their finger on the actual mechanism that makes a person charismatic.

The most important thing is if you can’t say what something is, you can’t get more of it.

One reason why charisma is so elusive is it lives in the energy created between two people. The person with the charisma and the person being affected by it. Also, charisma is less a group of behaviors and more a state of being. You don’t “do” charisma, you “are” charismatic, or you are not. Finally, charisma is all about emotions and being able to connect with someone and impact their emotions in a meaningful way. The most important thing is if you can’t say what something is, you can’t get more of it. As I was talking to a coworker around this difficulty of defining charisma, I stumbled into articulating the first definition I’ve seen that actually explains how charisma works, not just what it does.

Charisma is the ability to sense, and ultimately deliver, exactly what is most needed from an emotional perspective in a given moment.

Imagine you are a party and it is boring. Sensing and saying, “this party is dead,” will not make you charismatic, just observant. However, the person who can bring what is needed to make the party exciting and wonderful will be perceived as charismatic.

Now change scenes to a hospital where a family is waiting to find out the results of a loved one’s operation. Bringing da party is not charismatic. What is? Imagine the uncle or aunt who has the ability to empathize, give compassion and comfort — this person will be perceived as charismatic.

Through these examples, you can start to see why charisma is so elusive and hard to define. It is ever-changing based on the needs of others and it is not contained in just a single skill that a person has.  \The truly charismatic among us carry this state of being with them in whatever context they find themselves in. It’s not an act or a skill, it’s more a state of being.

The good news is once you unwrap what charisma actually is, you can start to get more of it. If you are ready, in the immortal words of Bruce Dickinson, “roll it!”

“…ding ding ding ding…”

 

Joe Kwon
Joe Kwonhttps://www.joekwonjoe.com/
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.
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Larry Tyler

Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post. I truly enjoyed reading it. Being a drummer I get the cowbell reference.

Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent

Good points, Joe.

Andrew Books
Andrew Books

The leader who can effectively harness the gift of charisma can do wonders. History is replete with examples of those who used it for both good and bad, which is a testament as to its power. Good post, Joe….and welcome, from one newbie bizcat to another!

Teresa Young

This is wonderful, AND charismatic, with a fun approach to an elusive topic. And more, that definition of charisma is a keeper, and Joe’s examples bring its distinctions to life. Thank you, Joe!

Mary Schaefer

“One reason why charisma is so elusive is it lives in the energy created between two people… charisma is less a group of behaviors and more a state of being. You don’t “do” charisma, you “are” charismatic, or you are not.” Thank you for advancing my understanding of charisma, Joe Kwon! Well done.

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