Published on:

2nd Aug 2022

5 Charismatic Traits

• We can condense the four theories of charisma into 5 distinct charismatic traits: likeability and warmth; power and influence; emotional intelligence; presence, awareness and self-control; and social intelligence and leadership. If we can consistently hit these five notes in our social interactions, we cannot help but boost our “charisma quotient.”

• To be impactful, charisma has to be genuine to us. We need to take responsibility for honestly appraising our skills and taking concrete action to improve in real life. Whether we are extroverted or introverted, there is a unique charisma style that will work for us.

• Real life celebrities and historical figures can serve as examples and inspiration. Both Will Smith and Marilyn Monroe show how you can tick all 5 charisma boxes, but in completely different ways.

• Will Smith teaches us to be prepared, stay humble and work hard, and lead with positivity, humor, and good-naturedness. Though his social mask makes him appear easygoing and lighthearted, it conceals the effort, deliberation and hard work required to build the life and image you want.

• Marilyn Monroe teaches us that charisma can also be about magnetically drawing people towards you, rather than being loud and over the top to demand attention. Marilyn shows us the power of appearance, and how to craft a performing person down to the finest detail. She also shows us indirectly that perfection is not required, and that if you can lean honestly into your own vulnerability and fragility, people may love you all the more for it.

• You can design your own unique charisma formula by honestly rating how you perform in each of these five areas, and committing to taking action today to improve.

Show notes and/or episode transcripts are available at https://bit.ly/social-skills-shownotes

Learn more or get a free mini-book on conversation tactics at https://bit.ly/pkconsulting

#Charisma #Charismatic #CharismaticTraits #EmotionalIntelligence #IdealPersona #IrresistiblePersona #Likeability #SocialIntelligence #5CharismaticTraits #RussellNewton #NewtonMG #PatrickKing #PatrickKingConsulting #SocialSkillsCoaching #ImproveYourPeopleSkills


Trait 1: Likeability and warmth

Or “affability.” Arguably the most important trait. If you can smile, put people at ease and accept others for who they are, you’re already halfway there.

Challenge yourself to smile at a stranger every day. Look for ways to laugh and be light-hearted. Commit right now to never being that person who gossips, criticizes or judges people in public. Instead, make it a habit to genuinely learn what others can teach you in every interaction, and take it upon yourself to shine the light of your attention on others, so they feel seen, appreciated, and listened to.

Trait 2: Power and influence

The ability to convince and persuade others, and being perceived as competent and in control. The only chance you have of being an inspirational presence in people’s lives, and to have them believe in you, is to start with belief in yourself. Tap into those things you know with all your heart, the skills you’re a natural expert at, and the values that mean more than anything to you. Find your raw, sparkling passion and communicate it loud and clear to others – think of influence as the transmission of conviction from one person to another. But you must have that conviction in the first place!

Trait 3: Emotional intelligence

Charisma is not about logic, intelligence, or being right. It’s about emotions. Being emotionally intelligent means knowing how to perceive the emotions of others, as well as ensuring that your own are communicated. Charismatic people don’t just rely on words – they can engage emotionally on nonverbal channels.

The single best way to ramp up your emotional intelligence is to get into your body. Use all of yourself to communicate, including your voice, posture, movement, and gesture. Likewise, watch closely how other people present themselves – all of themselves. Listening is about close conscious awareness, and the perception of patterns that go beyond the words people say.

Trait 4: Presence, awareness and self-control

Anxiety, distraction, assumption, expectation and getting stuck in our own heads… all of this take us out of the moment, and saps our charisma. Charm is something living and dynamic that unfolds in the moment; if we hope to master it, we need to be spontaneous, alive to the moment and responsive. This takes a degree of self-awareness. We can improve our ability to anchor in the moment and the person in front of us by using mindfulness techniques. Once we’re routinely aware of ourselves, we can do the next thing: control ourselves.

Awareness paves the way for us to consciously choose how we want to appear, speak, and engage. What role do we want to play and why? What mask shall we wear, and what are the rules of the game we’re playing?

Trait 5: Social intelligence and leadership

When we master ourselves in any social interaction, we earn the right to begin to steer things in the direction we want them to go. In other words, we become capable of leadership. In a way, the ability to lead is a culmination of all the charismatic traits, and is the intelligent synthesizing of all the social and emotional skills into one. If we have a vision, we can reach out to others, communicate it, and persuade them to help us build that vision.

Most of us want to be more charismatic because we just want people to like us. But charisma can also be applied – when we put energy, brilliance and warmth to work, what could we achieve and create? It’s powerful stuff!

A prince and a queen – two case studies

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, this particular celebrity spent most of his days charming the pants off people. First busting onto the TV screen as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will Smith has since won four Grammy Awards and been nominated for countless others. Will Smith is arguably one of the most recognizable and likeable actors (and rappers!) globally and has built his $250 million empire on one thing: his personality.

Will Smith is one charismatic guy. Picture him in your head right now – what do you see? Most likely, you envision a broad, easy smile. Smith is the quintessential “larger than life” personality and someone who can teach us a lot about thriving at the center of attention. How does Will measure up against our 5 ultra-charisma traits?

Likeability? Check. Emotional intelligence and presence? Check and check. In fact, Smith admirably demonstrates all these characteristics. His power and influence seem to come from his unapologetically being himself – and making it look so good that other people are inspired to imitate him!

Although the comedic actor gives off an easy-going aura, his success was not accidental. According to him, you need to be prepared. Take charge and decide how you want life to play out before it happens. “So if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready, and that is how I run my life. Just stay ready. Stay in shape and then you don’t have to rush to train before the movie starts …And I’ll show you my abs later because I’m in shape. But that idea, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” Will Smith is paying attention, he’s being present, and he’s committed to learning the rules of the game so that when it’s time to play, he’s ready to go. He’s in control. Sure, he may play it cool and joke around, but deep down, there is a hard-nosed willingness to visualize what he wants, and to do the work required. “In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.”

Will Smith uses lashings of humor to keep things light and humble – and though it doesn’t look like a fine art, it really is. “My daughter said, ‘Daddy, are we rich?’ I say, ‘No, baby, you’re broke. Daddy worked really hard. You don’t even own them clothes. Mommy and daddy are going to teach you how to create a space where you have the life that you desire, but this is the life that mommy and daddy desired, and we worked really hard to create this life for ourselves, but you are going to have to create your own.’” See how he speaks to his passion and conviction, but never gets too serious or allows it to come across as arrogance? This is the power of well-placed humor.

Will Smith is off the charts when it comes to likeability. He’s the kind of mega-celebrity you could imagine being friends with, and is frequently reported as being approachable and friendly to those who want autographs or pictures. Watch any recorded interviews with him, and you’ll see that he takes the same relaxed, respectful and easy approach with everyone, no matter who they are. He looks them in the eyes, talks plainly and without airs, and keeps smiling. Because he is so at ease with himself, others feel relaxed around him. A little humor, open body language, a warm smile, and the occasional moment of deep sincerity all make for a pretty charming package. It’s what makes Will Smith feel like something even better than a famous celebrity – that is, a genuinely awesome person.

So, where does this leave us? If you want to have superstar A-list energy and impressive charisma, do you have to start acting like Will Smith? Absolutely not.

Consider this: who else is like Will Smith? You may be able to think of a few people a bit like him (Eddie Murphy comes to mind), but Will Smith’s personal brand is all his own. He took the way he looked, his personality, his accent, everything, and owned it. Can you imagine Will Smith before he was famous, trying to fake his way into celebrity by mimicking someone like Humphrey Bogart? Just picture it: Will Smith, speaking kind of like Frank Sinatra, wearing a suit and tie, and crooning in front of a big brass band. It doesn’t even make sense, right?

Or picture Will Smith trying to be a dangerous “bad boy” and playing up his sex appeal like countless other celebrities he could have taken inspiration from. It just doesn’t work. Instead, Will Smith took who he was and ran with it. His brand is “clean” and fun, and nobody does Will Smith better than he does! In a way, Smith made an exaggerated mask of his own personality, and played that role to perfection. He achieved levels of likeability and fame that he never would have if he merely imitated someone else.

If this inspires you, the lesson is to find your unique brand of charm, and play it up to the max. Being “larger than life” in your life may look nothing like it does for Will Smith, but it’s still built on the same 5 charisma traits that he mastered.

So, that’s our “prince” covered – who is our “queen”?

While Will Smith grabs the limelight with his bold, confident and in-your-face charisma, our next celebrity is a study in charisma that is more magnetic – i.e., it doesn’t expand out into the world so much as invite other people to come closer.

Jane Fonda told the New York Times about the aura around Marilyn Monroe, who she had met in an acting class. Apparently, people at a party who were once waiting for Monroe to arrive were so excited that some were physically shaking. The actress purportedly told people she could switch her charm off and on, disappearing invisibly into a subway and not being noticed one moment, and behaving in such a way the next moment that people were falling over themselves to get a look at her.

Today, countless celebrities have been influenced by the original sex symbol, and one could argue her legacy is overplayed at this point. It’s easy to forget, however, just how impressive Monroe’s achievements were at the time – she literally transformed herself into a goddess of the screen, the likes of which nobody had ever seen before. If charisma was a skill, Marilyn Monroe was one of its first heavyweight geniuses.

Like Will Smith, her dazzling aura came down to the irresistible persona she portrayed. But that’s where the similarities end. Whereas Smith is loud, confident and funny, Monroe was far more low-key. In interviews, she was gentle, soft-spoken, a little mysterious and flirtatious… even, bizarrely, conveying a fragile and vulnerable sense of innocence that somehow just seemed to make her more gorgeous. Monroe grew up poor, brunette and with crushingly low self-esteem that remained with her even after her mega-stardom. She suffered horribly from stage-fright and probably would not have considered herself an extrovert in the least.

And yet! Monroe didn’t need to search for attention because it always seemed to find her. She was magnetic – she simply was her dazzling self, and people couldn’t help but be drawn towards her. A reporter once said, “Amid a slowly gathering hush, she stood there, a blond apparition in a strapless cocktail gown, a little breathless as if she were Cinderella, just stepped from the pumpkin coach.” No funny quips, no performance. She didn’t do anything in particular. She just was.

So, what can we learn from Marilyn (especially those of us who want to create a quieter, more alluring magnetism)? Well, it probably doesn’t hurt to be astoundingly beautiful. But other beautiful actresses surrounded Marilyn, and she still outshone them. Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren were certainly formidable competition, but none had that ineffable star quality that Marilyn did. Why?

Marilyn was an actress, but her best role was off-screen, where she successfully created a dazzling sex-siren image. Like Will Smith, none of this was by accident. Marilyn Monroe wasn’t born Marilyn Monroe. She spent enormous amounts of energy and time crafting her image; watch any of her gestures, idiosyncrasies and manners of speech in interviews – every inch of it is carefully considered, rehearsed and delivered with precision.

And she did it without being loud or larger than life. She was the queen of the seductive glance, the irresistible laugh, and dressing in such a way that you couldn’t help but notice her. She used her sex appeal, yes, but it’s interesting to note that Marilyn’s biggest fans today are seemingly women, who are just as entranced by her vision of femininity, proving that raw sex appeal was only part of her charm.

If you can’t see yourself cultivating an “out there” brand of charm like Will Smith, consider a more magnetic, passive charismatic such as Marilyn as your inspiration. Get people to come to you. One way to do this is to use your appearance – how can you immediately set yourself apart from other people without speaking a word? Ramp up your presence in a room by being visually unusual, in whatever way fits your personality best. It takes a little courage to be different, but many introverted or shy people find it easier to “express” themselves this way, since it doesn’t require them to be brash and talkative. It may seem superficial to focus a lot on your appearance, but this is one of the most immediate and primal ways we communicate nonverbally.

Another thing we can learn from Marilyn is the power of crafting an image. The icon she created had very little to do with who she actually was as a person – reportedly a very intelligent, complex humanitarian. Marilyn played a role. Today, celebrities like Beyonce have admitted to doing the same thing, for example, when they get on stage, they are no longer themselves, but an alter ego. This is something that allows even painfully shy people to be terrific actors – when it’s not you that you’re putting out there, it’s so much easier to take risks! You can do the same by creating your own alter-ego. Make this other person a kind of archetype, or a glamorous, brilliant version of yourself. Ask what they would do in a social interaction, then do it.

There’s one final part of Marilyn Monroe’s charm that it would be a mistake to leave out, which is her story's tragic element. Everyone knows that Marilyn was troubled, misunderstood, and haunted by her past—behind the glitz and glamor. There were suggestions of drug use, and her love life was tumultuous. She died young and in tragic and mysterious circumstances, and today people think wistfully about her legacy – who was the real Marilyn?

This is all to say that being charismatic doesn’t necessarily mean that you are perfect, happy and uncomplicated. The fact that Marilyn’s charming façade and her real self were at such odds doesn’t detract from her appeal – it adds to it! In other words, we all find a little drama, mystery and darkness extremely enticing. She portrayed a beautiful, flawless image, but she is today loved for the fact that much of her life wasn’t beautiful and flawless. People love Marilyn because she was vulnerable, imperfect and tragic. We feel touched that she suffered, not that her life was easy.

If you feel like you are too boring, flawed, insecure, or unhappy to be a truly charismatic person, think again. If you can consciously and deliberately show your vulnerability to others, you can come across as infinitely more human, more likeable and more real than if you had stayed completely cool and invincible. Especially for women, a degree of fragility can be extremely becoming. It’s OK to be a little self-deprecating, or to humorously own up to your fears and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to show your soft side now and then. Done right, this can be incredibly charming!

Designing your unique charisma formula

Now, what about you?

You have your own, 100% unique form of charisma, just like our two case studies. Making that essence shine bright is just a matter of using the 5 traits we’ve identified. In a journal or word processor, answer the following questions:

Trait 1: Likeability and warmth

On a scale of 1 to 10, how warm and likeable are you, honestly?

What single behavior can you identify as an obstacle to you being more likable?

Think of times in the past where you’ve felt really warm, kind, and benevolent – what was happening, and what made it so easy to broadcast your friendliness in that moment?

Can you identify a single person who you could be warmer and kinder to? How?

Trait 2: Power and influence

Do you have a clear mission, passion or project in life you care deeply about?

If so, does everyone in your world clearly know about it?

Being honest, do you know your own value? Do other people? Why or why not?

What is holding you back from “speaking your truth” right now? What might be the costs of not speaking up about what you believe in?

Trait 3: Emotional intelligence

Think of the last time you felt you connected emotionally with someone. What were they doing, and what were you doing?

Thinking deeply, what is the thing you most want from others when you engage with them? Attention? Validation? Distraction? Stimulation?

What can you do today to gift this feeling to someone in your own world?

Trait 4: Presence, awareness and self-control

To what extent do you plan and prepare for social interactions?

According to your values and goals, how would you most like to come across to those around you?

Do you know how others see you? How could you find out?

What is the one thing you could do right now to communicate your ideal persona to others?

Trait 5: Social intelligence and leadership

What unique insights and abilities do you possess that nobody else does?

Are you conveying those to the world? If not, how could you start?

What would you like to create around you if you had infinite power and influence?

What small step can you take right now towards that vision?

Finally, to bring it all together:

What does your ultimate, supremely charismatic alter ego look like? What do they say, and how do they act?

What are your biggest flaws and weakness in social interactions? How would your alter ego deal with these?

Are you a larger-than-life extroverted and sparkly charismatic, or do you have a more a magnetic, alluring and introverted presence?

Think of the people you most admire for their charisma – what could you easily do right now to mimic some of their behavior?

Which questions were hardest to answer, and why do you think that is?

Finally, warmth, influence, presence, etc.…. which aspects of charisma are most natural for you, and which are you happy to leave less developed?

To be frank, many of us have an internal picture of who we are and how we like to see ourselves, but this is often a lot more flattering than how other people actually see us! As you work at cultivating the kind of charismatic aura that fits you best, be prepared to be honest with yourself and admit when something isn’t working. You could be a completely amazing person, but if you are not communicating that properly, it almost doesn’t matter.

It’s our responsibility to know where we stand and to take steps to improve. The above questions are a good start, but they need to be made real in the world through concrete action. Today (right now, when you finish reading this chapter!), commit to taking one small step, whether that’s smiling at someone in the street, striking up a conversation with a stranger, or hitting the gym, so you feel more comfortable and confident in your own body.

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About the Podcast

Social Skills Coaching
Become More Likable, Productive, and Charismatic
While everyone wants to make themselves and their lives better, it has been hard to find specific, actionable steps to accomplish that. Until now...

Patrick King is a Social Interaction Specialist, in other words, a dating, online dating, image, and communication, and social skills coach based in San Francisco, California. He’s also a #1 Amazon best-selling dating and relationships author with the most popular online dating book on the market and writes frequently on dating, love, sex, and relationships.

He focuses on using his emotional intelligence and understanding of human interaction to break down emotional barriers, instill confidence, and equip people with the tools they need for success. No pickup artistry and no gimmicks, simply a thorough mastery of human psychology delivered with a dose of real talk.

About your host

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Russell Newton