Charisma is commonly believed to be something people are born with, and Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Martin Luther King Jr., all had the ability to enter large groups of people as well as connect on a personal level from a young age.
This statement is false.
“Charisma is simply the result of learned behaviors,” says Olivia Fox Cobane, author of The Charisma Myth.
With the right mentors, people can learn helpful values and skills early on. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s father was a preacher and social activist.
Some people need a little more help to develop charisma.
Steve Jobs “came across as bashful and awkward in his earliest presentations,” Cobane says. ”Jobs painstakingly worked to increase his level of charisma over the years, and you can see the gradual improvement in his public appearances.”
If you want to get ahead in business, being charismatic will give you a big leg up. Here are some research-backed ways to seem more charming:
- Charismatic people are comfortable expressing their emotions.
“Charismatic individuals express their feelings spontaneously and genuinely,” Claremont McKenna College psychologist Ronald E. Riggio says. “This allows them to affect the moods and emotions of others.”
Emotional Contagion defines as ”the tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person’s, and consequentially, to converge emotionally.”
Moreover, charisma is the ability to express your emotions in a way that will make others feel those same emotions.
- Charismatic people use relatable words to make a connection with their audience.
The one thing that successful presidents have in common, according to the University of California at Davis psychologist Dean Keith Simonton’s book Why Presidents Succeed, is their ability to connect with people through language.
It’s about finding and using emotional triggers like hope, hate, love, or greed.
“People don’t have rich [emotional] associations with abstract words like inference, concept, or logic,” he tells the APA Monitor. ”‘I feel your pain’ has an association, but ‘I can relate to your viewpoint’ doesn’t. The most charismatic presidents reached an emotional connection with people talking not to their brains but to their gut.”
- Charismatic individuals mimic the body language of others.
When two people are getting along, psychologists have found that they start to mirror each other’s bodies. This is a sign of trust and safety. For example, if your date crosses their legs, you might do the same thing; or if you take a sip of water, so does your date.
You can use mimicry to your strategic advantage.
In a 2007 study on negotiation strategies, Adam Galinsky from Columbia University and his team asked one group of participants to mirror their partner’s behavior while the other group would act without any prior knowledge. In negotiations, people who mimicked their opponents were 10 times more likely to successfully close a deal than those who didn’t copy their dialogue.
Scholars have found that emulating others helps to create a positive relationship, which then leads both parties to be more forthcoming with information and desires for a beneficial outcome.
“Our research suggests that mimicking is one way to facilitate building trust and, consequently, information sharing in a negotiation,” Galinsky and company write. “By creating trust in and soliciting information from their opponent, mimickers bake bigger pies at the bargaining table, and consequently take a larger share of that pie for themselves.” Read The Best Negotiation Books to learn about negotiation.
This article was originally published on Business Insider.