January 2018, Nikki Owen on RSNG
Being charismatic has been linked by the CBI to a 60% performance boost at work, while charismatic people find it easier to build long-term relationships – but it’s not an inherent trait – we can all become more charismatic.
RISING spoke to charisma expert Nikki Owen who has worked one-to-one with 2,500 business leaders to in order to boost their charisma, so we could discover eight easy steps to unlocking your own…
Don’t Hide Who You Really Are
The first thing to realise about charisma is that it’s not confidence. ‘Being the loudest voice in the room is not charismatic,’ says Owen. It’s also not a performance. ‘What’s absolutely vital when it comes to charisma is that ability to be authentic. It’s that power, which captivates the hearts and minds of others – when you are being true to who you really are, you shine in your own way.’
Of course, when it comes to that crunch meeting or a first date, we’re often tempted to project a kickass version of ourselves. ‘But we are communicating the person that we think others expect us to be, and that’s what blocks charisma,’ warns Owen. ‘You can’t try to be charismatic because the more you try the more fake you will come across as. It’s about expressing your true essence whether you’re introvert or extrovert – it’s about having the courage to show up as you. There’s something refreshingly compelling about people who are really real. A good question to ask yourself is: who am I?’
Get Energised To Engage
Once you’re more aware of who you are, you can start to bring more energy into encounters. ‘Charisma is about the ability to exude high energy levels and touch people emotionally.’ Owen advises when you meet someone for the first time you should notice things that you like about them. This creates a positive energy, which will help others feel more comfortable around you. ‘When we feel good our energy and charisma expands, and when we feel negative they diminish.’
Don’t Be A Robot
To be a compelling person you need to connect. ‘Charisma requires and creates an emotional response within others. So if the individual isn’t emotionally connected with their heart as well as their head, then this will diminish their charisma and make it much harder to create a compelling connection with others,’ says Owen.
If you’re about to go into a situation where you need to be charismatic then take a moment to put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath and ask yourself: ‘What do I feel? What would my heart do here?’ Owen gives this exercise to CEOs to do. ‘If we’re feeling an emotion that’s not good then that’s our unconscious mind trying to give us feedback that there’s something we’re doing that is out of alignment with our authentic self.’
Slow Things Down With Your Breathing
A quick hack you can do every day, to make you more charismatic, is start your morning with five minutes of breathing deeply, from your diaphragm rather than your throat. ‘People tend to breath quite shallowly just from the base of their throats and it creates a sense of anxiety and a closing down of their self. Simply by breathing from the diaphragm rather than from the throat instantly improves our awareness of yourself and others – you also connect more with your emotions.’ This means you’ll be empowering your charisma rather than sabotaging it.
Balance Your Attention
Being charismatic means being engaging, but don’t give too much of yourself. ‘If we place all of our awareness on the other person then they feel great but we can’t sustain that,’ believes Owen. So, the interaction becomes draining and rather than charismatic we risk ending up looking horribly bored all of a sudden. It goes the other way too – if you’re too focussed on affecting what other people think about you, then you’ll be energising yourself but putting a drain on everyone else. ‘Balance helps to generate much more energy in social interactions and increases your charisma.’
Expand Your Charismatic Presence
If you go through life feeling a little bit vague and without anything you’re particularly bothered about, then you’re unlikely to be very charismatic. ’Charismatic people have compelling visions for their lives. “When we’re focussed on that which we desire, we bring into being that which we desire.” So, focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want,’ says Owen.
At the same time, it’s not all about you. To be charismatic you need to connect. ‘When we create a positive feeling within others we build energy, and charismatic people have an ability to make others feel good about themselves. Having a compassionate and positive conception about everyone really enables you to massively expand your charismatic presence.’
Ditch Negative Thinking
Being relentlessly positive may not be terribly practical, but having a default negative mindset basically drowns your charisma in a bucket. ‘Every thought we have affects our energy and therefore our charisma,’ believes Owen. The thing is, a ‘down’ mindset is easy to slip into – fortunately there’s a simple hack we can use to break patterns of negative thought.
Just put an elastic band on your wrist and every time you catch yourself thinking negativity, switch the band to your other wrist. ‘After a while you cannot not do positive thinking because you have interrupted your ability to think negatively.’
Explore Your Headspace
There are two mind skills that really help maximise charisma. ‘Mindfulness and operating in the now is hugely beneficial to charisma,’ Owen says. After all, mindfulness is the ability to be really present and operate in the now. ‘Many people will feel depressed about what happened in the past, or anxious about what’s going to happen in the future. When we can operate exclusively in the now, and we are present with ourselves and other people we energise ourselves, and we energise our charisma.’
Owen’s work with leaders has also shown that meditation is very useful when building a charismatic sense of yourself. ‘Meditation allows us to process our baggage from the past in a way that is comfortable and allows us over time to be much more comfortable being our true, authentic self.’