Why Some People Have More Charisma

–The Charisma Chronicles: episode #6 of 10

There is at least one in every room, every school, every board room.

The one.

I’m not talking about Neo from the Matrix, but I might as well be.

You’ve seen it yourself. It is the person, who for better or for worse, everyone seems to follow, listen to, and take their cues from. Sometimes that’s a good thing and you can do great things together and sometimes they wreak havoc without any apparent accountability.

The question we are wrestling with today is not the morality of this person, but rather why some people have charisma to spare and others have very little.

Let’s rule out some common, but incorrect theories about why some people have more charisma. Is it based on:

  • Looks? No

  • Money? Nope

  • Height? Sorry

  • Pedigree? That would be unfair and . . . No.

  • Moral ambiguity? You’re frightening the children and no.

  • Listening skills? Close, but no cigar.

  • Authenticity? Great quality, but not sufficient.

  • Power poses? You must be joking.

  • Ability to mimic body language? Stop. Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself now. Okay, maybe I tried this. Once. Perhaps.

To understand why some people have more charisma, we have to go back to our original definition of charisma. I first shared this in episode #1 of the Charisma Chronicles and I’ll repeat it here.

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

Anyone, and I repeat anyone, who is able to do this will have charisma.

I don’t care how rich/poor, attractive/unattractive, famous/obscure or old/young you are. This is because charisma happens in the invisible emotional space between people.

So why are some people better at doing the necessary than others? Why are some people better at singing or doing puzzles? It’s a combination of innate ability, ability to learn, and practice to improve.

If we look at these areas, innate ability and ability to learn are out of our control. There is only one area that we have any control over — the quantity and quality of practice.

The simple answer is most people with more Charisma have been practicing it their whole lives for one reason or another.

People aren’t practicing charisma consciously. No 5-year-old says, “I’m going to be charismatic.”

It’s more a byproduct of how they interacted with their environment and charisma becoming a main tool they deployed just like any other ability like grit or humor. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s a survival skill.

Here’s the good news. Even if you didn’t practice and learn charisma early on, you can still learn it today. Like acquiring any new skill that you don’t currently have, it will be uncomfortable, you will stink at first and you will want to give up. That’s ok. For those who understand how charisma works and put in the practice needed, the rewards are tremendous.

An easy way to start the journey of building more charisma is to do a charisma skills inventory.

Ask yourself:

  • How good are you at sensing others’ emotional needs?

  • How good are you at sensing your own emotional needs?

  • How skilled are you at keeping your own emotional balance and withstanding negative emotional contagion?

  • What skills of connection and leadership do you have that help you influence others emotions?

If you give honest answers to these questions and start to add any tools that are missing and sharpen the tools that you have, you will start to become more charismatic.

Would love to hear from you about how it goes . . .


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.

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  1. People charismatic in most cases are moved by an ethical sense, from a vocation, from a mission. The charismatic person, in general, is pragmatic, distributes energy and ideals, makes free, opens the doors of the mind and heart, with his talent and his existential choices, it becomes a positive model of life, an ethical example. The charismatic person is sensitive towards others and demonstrates warm sympathy and human appreciation even when it is in deep disagreement. The aim is to resolve tensions without leaving the other aftermaths and in the relationship. The interpersonal attraction is also enhanced by the ability to make everyone feel more welcomed and accepted, recognized in their abilities, their similarities and differences.
    In a nutshell, a charismatic person is a beloved leader, manifests a winning mindset and strong self-esteem, ability to show attention and bestow feedback, ability to replace negative beliefs with other positive; has control over the power of the mind, use a precision language and endeavor to understand what are the criteria of others to relate to the best, finally you know how to be authoritarian and friendly at the same time.

    • I think your image of a charismatic leader is a wonderful one. Agree that those qualities are crucial. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Joe, my question of late is, “How come some people have none?” By virtue of being human, people should have at least some charisma, yet I look around and am disappointed to find I am the smartest person in the room when it comes to emotional intelligence. Thank you for writing this article.I hope it inspires others to try to understand their own emotions and learn to connect to the humanity in each and every one of us.

    • It’s an important question, Christine and I think the answer is in your reply – lack of Connection. Speaking from experience, when a person is not able to connect with their own emotions they cannot connect with other’s. We cannot give what we do not have inside. As you stated, we are all humans so sensing and delivering are not outside anyone’s ability. It’s the ability to access it. Anyway, my 2 cents. Thanks for sharing!