Charming people generally are more successful than their less charming counterparts. In fact, charm is the single most important quality you can possess if you want to be a leader. But what is it that charming people do differently from everyone else? They are not necessarily wittier or better-looking or more sophisticated. Charming people simply have taught themselves a few interpersonal skills—skills that anyone can master.
Surprisingly, the point of these interpersonal skills isn’t primarily to make us seem more appealing to others—it’s to make the people we interact with seem more appealing to themselves. People are drawn to a person who boosts their self-esteem. They are inclined to help him/her and predisposed to believe what he has to say—even if they don’t completely understand why.
To be more charming…
Greet each person you meet as if he were very special. Do this with strangers and longtime acquaintances alike. If you can’t muster the necessary enthusiasm naturally, tell yourself that each person you meet is a dear childhood friend whom you haven’t seen in decades. Act as though you are absolutely thrilled to have this old friend back in your life.
It can be particularly difficult to smile and seem thrilled to meet people when you are nervous. If a situation fills you with anxiety, mentally rehearse being warm and genial.
Example: Before a job interview, imagine that you are smart and charming and that everything goes very well.
Be free with a “thank you.” Thank everyone for every reason you can find. Thank your spouse for listening to your problems, even when your spouse is the problem. Thank your employees for their work, even when they are just doing their jobs. Thank the maître d’ for trying to find you a table, even if it was he who lost your reservation in the first place.
A heartfelt “thank you” lets people know that we appreciate what they’ve done, which boosts their faith in their own importance and competence. They feel better about themselves and then are drawn to us for making them feel that way.
Saying “thank you” inflates our self-esteem, too, because it reminds us of our ability to help others. The higher our self-esteem climbs, the more comfortable we are around others and the more charming we become.
Helpful: Before visiting a foreign country, learn to say, “Thank you,” “You’re welcome,” “Please,” “Good morning” and “Excuse me” in the language. Write down the phrases phonetically, and use them often.
Pay attention. Listen to people as if you were hanging on every word. Lean forward slightly, nod every minute or two, focus on the speaker’s eyes, occasionally “flicking” your gaze from one of his eyes to the other. There is no such thing as too intense a gaze when you are listening—imagine that your eyes are sunlamps and that your goal is to give the speaker’s eyes a tan. When people feel listened to, they feel happier and will associate you with those happy feelings.
The longer you can keep a conversation partner speaking on subjects that interest him, the more charming he’ll consider you. If you don’t know what topics are of interest to this person, inquire about his family or ask, “What sort of work do you do?” Be sure to use the phrase “sort of work.” The vagueness lets people who currently are unemployed discuss their fields in general rather than admit that they’re out of a job. Follow this up with, “How did you get into that line?” At some point, the person will pause to make sure you are still listening. Prompt him with an encouraging question, such as, “What did you do then?”
Praise people’s efforts. Humans have an unquenchable need to be reassured that they are worthy of praise. If you feed this need in people, they will repeat whatever behavior earned them your praise, hoping that they will get more. Almost like addicts, they will return to you for a praise fix again and again.
Some people will try to downplay your praise, claiming that their efforts were nothing special. Don’t let them stop you. People who aren’t good at accepting praise still love to receive it.
Find something to admire. Compliment something about everyone you meet. Your compliments need not be about big things—sometimes we score more points by noticing the little things that everyone else tends to overlook.
It is sometimes tricky to compliment people we have just met, since we don’t know much about them yet. Consider complimenting something they are wearing. Example: Those who stood near famously charming former president Bill Clinton in receiving lines often would hear him say, “I like your tie.”
Date: June 14, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Personal