Charisma  

Charisma adj. the ability to positively influence others by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Some time after I began working as a sales associate at a department store, I discovered that people were responding to me in more positive and favorable ways. I did not understand why at first, but on a hunch I looked for authoritative sources on "charisma" and discovered the work of Dr. Tony Alessandra. I then realized that I was learning some of the qualities of charisma on my own.

This particular system characerizes charisma as resulting from the combination of seven qualities. Each reader will find that he/she has some of these qualities already, and has room for improvement in others. Alessandra suggests that the reader visualize a set of glasses — some of your glasses are almost full, others only slightly full.

Presence: Everything non-verbal. Body language; stance; emotional mood; feelings; intellectual attitude; beliefs and opinions; being intentional; the context you're holding. (Part of MCV15)

Affiliativeness: Respecting others' time, personal space, and limits to emotions and opinions: "don't go there" unless you are clear you have been invited. (Covered by MCV08 and MCV10)

Speaking: Speaking personally. Speaking clearly and concisely; projecting your voice; smiling while talking, particularly in situations where you can't be seen, as when on the phone. (Part of MCV15)

Listening: Careful and attentive listening; checking your perception when necessary by paraphrasing; knowing when and how much to hold back speaking; having a beginner's mind in everything you say (listening for your own bias, if any, when you speak). (Covered by MCV08 and MCV10)

Adaptability: Promotion by affinity (passive "enrollment"): affinity as a structured discipline. The platinum rule: treat others as they would have you treat them. Taking a genuine interest in what they want. Finding one thing about them you admire, and generating your attitude from that. (Part of MCV08)

Persuasiveness: Promotion by endorsement and direct action (active "enrollment"); Motivating others to adopt your idea or follow your lead; asking questions that do not presuppose an answer. (Part of MCV09 and MCV15)

Vision: Setting your goals according to your personal mission statement. Having a mission statement that gives the world what you once most wanted for yourself. Continually being your own most true believer. (Part of MCV02)


The Group Exercise:

(Give the definition of "charisma" cited above) Charisma. The ability to positively influence others by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

(In large groups this hand-raising step makes sense. In smaller groups the distribution of answers will be skewed and the hand-raising isn't intimate enough, so it might be better just to mention a couple of the more common stereotypes of charisma, and then skip to the introduction.)

(The following is to ward off men getting impatient and wondering "how many more times is he going to ask us to raise our hands?") I'm going to ask four yes-or-no questions. You can raise your hands for each one if your answer is yes.

(Solicit a show of hands) Raise your hand if you believe you are charismatic. (Wait a moment) Okay (if necessary ask the group to put their hands down)

(In a similar way ask for responses to each of three more questions) Who believes that charisma is something you are born with?

Raise your hand if you believe that charisma is something that can be learned or acquired.

Who would like to improve or increase their charisma?

(Distinct from other aspects of character, in particular maturity)

Charisma is not the same as being mature — I'm sure you can think of people who are charismatic without being mature — and vice versa.

Although charisma includes parts of the archetypes of the King, Lover, Warrior and Magician (for women: the Queen, Mother, Maiden and Crone respectively) it does not cover those qualities fully. It is something you can explore and grow independently from your work on building those archetypes.

(Summarize the concepts of seven attributes or qualities, each posessed in different amounts)

Charisma can be broken up into seven different qualities — the combination of all of these is present in charismatic people. Think of them like glasses of water, filled to varying amounts. Each of you will find that you are doing well in a couple of them, could use some improvement in a couple, and perhaps a lot of improvement in a couple others.

(If this is being used as a stand-alone exercise, in a group that has ongoing commitment, something like the following is a good idea:) [I am going to ask everyone to listen for the quality or qualities that you feel you would like to, or need to, work on during the following week. This will give each of us somehting tangible to do, to improve how we interact with people.]

(If time is limited or you think it might be necessary to cut the exercise short, the seven qualities of charisma should be reordered so that the first ones covered are the ones more likely to be of use to the group. This requires some thought in advance as to how many people "already have" each of the qualities.)

(The 1st quality)

The first quality is:

Presence. This is everything non-verbal. Body language; stance; emotional mood; feelings; intellectual attitude; beliefs and opinions; being intentional; the context you're holding.

[Who can say they have this one mastered?] (Look for men to raise their hands) (Encourage them if no-one has responded)

(Select one participant)

[All right, tell us, in your own words, about this quality and how you approach it.]

(The 2nd quality)

The second quality of charisma is:

Affiliativeness. This means — respecting other people's time, their personal space, and any limits they might have regarding sensitive emotions and opinions. "Don't go there" unless you are clear you have been invited.

(Let everyone know this material is published and easily available so you don't have to memorize it) [Don't worry about remembering these or writing it down — we're going to email you the 7 qualities to the group mailing list after this meeting.]

(Again, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person)

[Who has this one really nailed!] (select one participant) [All right, tell us in your own words, what this quality means to you and how you do it.]

(The 3rd quality)

Speaking. Speaking clearly and concisely. Projecting your voice; smiling while talking, particularly in situations where you can't be seen, like when you're on the phone. They can tell you're smiling just by your tone of voice.

(As above, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person.) Who does this really well and would like to talk about it? (If neccessary) Let's try to hear from someone who hasn't spoken before.

(The 4th quality)

Listening. Careful and attentive listening. Checking your perception when necessary by paraphrasing or repeating it back — sometimes this is called active listening. Knowing when and how much to hold back speaking. Having a beginner's mind in everything you say and hear.

(As above, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person, and try to get someone who hasn't spoken before.)

(The 5th quality)

Adaptability. The type of promotion ("enrollment" for those from a Landmark or Sterling background) that works through affinity rather than through direct action. Affinity as a structured discipline. The platinum rule: treating others as they would have you treat them. Taking a genuine interest in the other person and in what they want. Finding one thing about them that you admire, and generating your attitude from that.

(Again, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person, and try to get someone who hasn't spoken before.)

(The 6th quality)

Persuasiveness. How you motivate others to adopt your idea, or to follow your lead. The type of promotion that works through direct endorsement. Asking powerful questions — questions that do not presuppose an answer.

(Again, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person, and try to get someone who hasn't spoken before.)

(The 7th and final quality)

Vision. Tying your goals to your life purpose; striving to give everyone what you once most wanted for yourself; continually being your own most true believer.

(Again, solicit the personal experience and wisdom of one person, and try to get someone who hasn't spoken before.)

(If some qualities were omitted in the interest of time, tell them so:) [There are three] (or however many) [more qualities which you can read about later on the web site, and they are called] (give their names)

(Distinguish doing from being)

Some of the things we've discussed are things you do — and you can practice them directly, by actually going out and doing specific things. For example, finding something about the person you're talking to, which you take an interest in, is something you can do.

However, there are other qualities we've discussed that are ways of being. These are things you cannot change directly — it's a bit like someone saying to you — Just be happy.

In those cases, I have found that the first step, and in fact the biggest step, is to cultivate awareness. I simply begin to notice when the quality is present or absent, and how much. Over time I realize how or why it is happening, and I can take action to effect results.

(Might want to repeat the point about maturity vs. charisma)

(Solicit open feedback)

Does anybody have anything they would like to say?

(Allow individual participants to speak. Encourage them to speak from their personal experience, to speak in terms that others can understand (avoiding jargon), and to avoid making judgments of other people's contributions.)

(When the energy dies down, move on)

(Solicit commitments)

(If the group is going to be asked to make a commitment, say the following now:) [All right, everyone tell us which quality you are going to pay attention to and work on during the next week — and also tell us, what tangible result you would like to achieve.]

[Please make your goal clear, concise, articulate, and measurable, and tell us how you will be accountable.]

(You may want a person to take notes of what is said in this part. You should also be ready to quickly review the list of 7 qualities.)

(end the exercise)


See Also:

Promotion describes how people get other people interested in things they care about, and how to provide coaching on that activity.

The Human Archetypes discusses the Jungian archetype system of Moore and Gillette related to masculine maturity, and expands on it to more fully include women.


Sources:

Charisma: Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success, book by Dr. Tony Alessandra, available here (Amazon).

Howard Spierer, MDINY newsletter v3n2, Feb 5 2006, distinction of charisma from maturity ("Why are we are so willing to follow charismatic immaturity?")

Team Go Nuts, summer 2006 (syllabus development)

Backbone division, September 2006 (field testing)


Other authorities on Charisma:

Professor Richard Wiseman is quoted here:

A charismatic person has three attributes:

How to be more charismatic:

General: Open body posture, hands away from face when talking, stand up straight, relax, hands apart with palms forwards or upwards

To an individual: Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them, develop a genuine smile, nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm, and maintain eye contact

To a group: Be comfortable as leader, move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at all parts of the group

Message: Move beyond status quo and make a difference, be controversial, new, simple to understand, counter-intuitive

Speech: Be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis


Older (and outdated) opinions:

Sociologist Max Weber, in 1947 defined "charisma" as A certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. This reflects a common belief that charisma is unattainable.

I found many comments like the following:

Charismatic people, although attractive on a first approach, tend to irritate me, especially those who are self-aware and take advatage of their charisma to climb their career ladder. I'd rather work with a shy, uncharismatic but effective and intelligent person. - Oscar Lima

This type of comment addresses the common belief that charisma does not entail interest in others. It is perhaps one of the negative stereotypes of American pop stars.

I work with managers who have been made redundant and coach them through applications and interviews. The key to charisma is having a genuine interest in the other person - hard to manufacture! Charisma is generated by those who are not too self-aware and there is always a little of the ingenuous about them! - Sandra Culham


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