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Book #5: The Charisma Myth

This is not one of my favorite topics. I’m a fond of the books that change your mentality and make you think differently. And I don’t like the books that teach you how to act on the surface and neglect the mentality and the intentions.

I always downplay the importance of the charisma. It doesn’t make a great person or a great leader. What is important, I believe, is the character.

But lately, I’ve come to realize that it’s important. Not more important than the character or the intentions, but important nonetheless.

I needed charisma when I started my career as a teacher 7 months ago. It’s important when it comes to human’s communication. It’s important to demonstrate your competence. And it’s important to be respected, obeyed, and followed.

I thought that my great ideas deserve to be demonstrated in a great way. Because even if you have the best ideas in the world, you need to demonstrate them in a charismatic way.

That’s why I’ve decided to work on my charisma. I didn’t read the book in details; I just took what I need. From there, I’m now building my charisma through trial and error.

In the book, the idea I’ve liked the most is that there are different charismatic styles. They largely depend on your personality. That, for me, removed the pressure of stereotypes. Charisma is not reserved for only one type of personality; everyone can be charismatic in their own way.

I liked this because I’m against faking and acting. I believe that the connection between people is better when we remove the masks and stop pretending to be someone that we are not.

One last tip was that some situations require specific charismatic styles. I’ve learned this in the class the hard way. Not all student’s groups respond to my favorite style of charisma. And not all situations should be handled the same way.

Sometimes you need to adopt a different charismatic style. And don’t get me wrong, this is not faking. This is a form of social intelligence. This is important to effective communication.

(By the way, the four charismatic styles are: Authority Charisma, Visionary Charisma, Focus Charisma, and Kindness Charisma).

Also, one of the important lessons were that charisma requires presence. You need to actually be there. In teaching, this was huge.

There is something about being heard that makes people feel so good about themselves. It’s equivalent to being appreciated. And you can’t do that without being present and focused. Sometimes this alone can make a huge difference.

The other elements, besides presence, are power and warmth. Power can be affected by your skills, your social status, other’s reactions to you, and, mostly, your body language. Warmth is to see whether this person will use his power in our favor or not.

We usually quickly look for signs of power and warmth. And they can be gained and projected if practiced enough.

This leads me to the importance of the first impression. I used to not believe in the accurateness of the first impression. But whether they are accurate or not, they have a great effect on whether we will get to know that someone or not.

Think about it. Even if someone is intelligent and has a lot of good skills, his inability to make good first impressions will hurt him. As a teacher who teaches courses that last for only one month, the first lecture can make or break the entire relationships between me and the students, which affects the success of the course.

The book also includes chapters on body language, speaking and listening with charisma, and presenting with charisma. They have helped me a lot to develop my charisma.

But one of the most important things that you need to realize is that practice is what makes the difference. You can’t just read the book and become charismatic! You have to screw up a couple of times in order to master anything.

Learn from your mistakes. Watch other charismatic people around you and learn from them. Don’t try to change who you are for the sake of being charismatic –charisma has to come naturally with your own uniqueness as an individual.

I still come back to this book whenever I feel that I need help. And I always find useful advice that I can apply. In the end, it turns out that it is not a book only about tips and tricks but it also cares about the internal state and the intentions. And it turns out that I still have more to learn from it.

Articles inspired by this book:

  • I don’t write about charisma or social skills, so there are no directly related articles. And I can’t think of any article that I’ve used some of the book’s ideas in. If I remember, I’ll post it here. But here is a guest post from my friend Timon who writes about social skills and confidence: Stop assuming people don’t like you to solve 90% of your social problems.

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