Originally published at: Forbes
As a professional matchmaker and CEO of a Los Angeles-based matchmaking agency, it is literally my job to connect people, and to connect with people. I'm in the entertainment capital of the world, and in this town, it's almost hard to not work with public figures and celebrities; people who have won over the public with their seemingly superhuman charm and charisma. I have worked with everyone from A-list actors to royalty to athletes to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and even though everyone I matchmake is incredibly different, they all share core behaviors that have catapulted them to success.
Although charisma is natural for some, it can be learned. After attending countless red carpet events, Hollywood soirees and one-on-one matchmaking meetings, I have learned a thing or two from my incredible clients about cultivating charisma.
1. Focus fully on the other person.
A lot of people believe that in order to be charismatic, you have to be the loudest person in the room. But the secret is that charismatic people are captivating because they are captivated with you. A lot of people presume that being interesting, funny and charming is the key to being charismatic, but it's not about what you have to say, it's about how you react to what other people have to say. When you are meeting a new person, don't worry about pumping yourself up to them by listing your accolades, telling a joke or winning them over. Take a back seat and focus on what they have to say by becoming an expert on listening.
2. It's all about your energy.
Maya Angelou is often quoted saying, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." As stereotypically LA as it sounds for me to say, it is essential for you to be mindful of the energy that you bring when you enter a room. People are generally intuitive and will sense when you are feeling awkward, down or nervous, so before entering any kind of interaction, you need to set yourself up for success by adjusting your energy. This kind of self-work doesn't magically happen in one day, so start today. Take five minutes at the beginning of your day to sit in the classroom of silence, or pop on a confidence-boosting/anxiety reduction/positive affirmation guided meditation on YouTube. (There are thousands of them.) Charisma comes from within, and the energy that you show up with is powerful.
3. Be warm.
Warmth is an element that is often overlooked by society, yet the most charismatic people I have experienced who are at the top of their game in business and entertainment exude this illusive element (men and women alike). Developing warmth internally before you express it in an authentic manner is vital; if your internal self-talk is negative and critical of yourself, it will manifest itself as critical and cold toward others. Working on that positive self-talk may seem silly at first, but if you just focus on warmth and positivity toward others, it will come off as inauthentic, and interactions will be draining for you.
Positive affirmations are a great way to start. If you find yourself being down on yourself or overly self-critical, replace that thought with a positive affirmation. Here is a list of 35 affirmations that you can add into your daily conversations with yourself. (No. 31 is my favorite: "I wake up today with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind.")
Physical action points to outwardly convey warmth include giving a genuine compliment within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone new, active listening with facial expressions and nodding your head, positively affirming their comments and efforts to connect, and the most important — as simple as it may seem — smiling.
4. Be playful.
Playfulness is another overlooked quality of charisma. Even when you are at a business-centered event, the people you are meeting with and connecting with want to enjoy themselves, just like you do. Instead of being another random person that they meet at a boring networking event, be the person that they actually enjoy talking to. Playfulness is an art. Looking for humor or irony, and being able to laugh at yourself is wildly endearing to others. Humor, levity and a little bit of self-deprecation disarms people and forges a bond.
5. Treat everyone exactly the same.
Finally, successful people are highly attuned at sniffing out disingenuous people. I have been to events where it is blatantly obvious when a person is only looking to talk to people who they can get something from, and if I've learned anything from working with people in the public eye, this is the most repulsive quality that a person can have and negates any charismatic qualities in a person immediately. If you are talking to someone but looking over their shoulder to see if someone more important just walked by, the person you are speaking with picks up on it. Also remember: Some of the most successful people are not necessarily the "show ponies." I can't tell you how many clients I have met who dress in an understated way and are not the loudest people in the room, and they happen to be the CEO of the company or the founder of the app.
By focusing your attention on the other person in a conversation, being mindful of the energy that you bring when you enter a room, being warm, being playful, and ultimately treating everyone exactly the same way despite their status or title, you will be well on your way to exuding charisma.