How To Be More Charismatic In A Conversation With 7 Easy Tips
If you've ever been in a situation where you're awkwardly fiddling with your drink in the corner booth of a bar, or crossing and uncrossing your legs underneath someone's kitchen table over coffee, you'll know first-hand that having charisma can be an important tool to have — and not necessarily an easy one to come by. Just think of some of your most favorite charismatic characters; how do they make you feel? Think of Norma Jeane Baker coming up the subway steps like just another working girl, then with a cock of her hips, a certain look coming into her eyes, she turns into Marilyn Monroe. Or the way Cary Grant looks leaning against a bar, easy grin, cool confidence, taking jabs, and slipping in compliments as if it was as easy as breathing. What do these two have that make them so enigmatic, and that makes you want to be around them?
It's charisma. And while it might seem like it's something you're blessed with, it's actually all learned. Sure, some people are more relaxed and outgoing than others, but with a little practice anyone can become that warm, magnetic person everyone seems to be drawn to at dinner parties or office break rooms. Here are seven tips on how to become more charismatic while in a conversation — pick up some of these tips and never excuse yourself to go hide in the bathroom again.
1. Be Fully Present For The Other Person
It might seem like being charismatic is all about showing off what great company you are, but the secret lies in boosting your partner up rather than yourself.
Lifestyle writers Brett and Kate McKay of confidence-development site The Art of Manliness shared, "The paradoxical secret of charisma is that it's not about trumpeting your good qualities, but making the other person feel good about himself. Real charisma makes the other person feel important; when they finish an interaction with you, they feel better about themselves than they did before."
Back when I was a college student working in a tanning salon in between classes, I met the Midwest's answer to George Clooney. This 35-year-old dream boat of a man would come in once a week and just turn me into this mess of happy vibes and good feels every time we small talked. He would ask me how my classes were going, show real excitement over the studies I was running, compliment my hair, and always act genuinely pleased to get to catch up with me. Through all of that, I didn't learn too much about him, yet I always thought he had this presence about him. Why? Because when taking all of these things into account, none of the conversation was about him but all of it was about me. Boom. Charisma.
2. Don't Stress If You Can't Contribute To The Convo
A lot of us lose our confidence when we come up against a conversation we can't really contribute to. But just because something is out of your field doesn't mean you can't have fun in the conversation. Instead, make space for your fear and dive in.
Lifestyle writer Patrick Allan at Lifehacker suggested to opt for curiosity instead of nerves, "You shouldn't only talk about what you know, though. You can be open with others and show that you're curious too while appearing confident. Most of us get locked up when we get caught in a conversation about something we know nothing about, and suddenly, we're looking for ways to defend ourselves instead of being okay with our ignorance. If you shift from 'defensive mode' into 'curiosity mode', you'll appear confident with the fact that you don't know about something."
On top of that, being curious shows that you're invested in the conversation. You might not know anything about it, but you want your convo partner to teach you. And that's super flattering, and above all else, engaging.
3. Ask Lots Of Questions
If you really want to rub people the right way, ask lots of questions. Being inquisitive and wanting to know more about a person shows that you find them interesting, which always goes over well.
As entrepreneur writer Siimon Reynolds at Forbes puts it, "I have always found it interesting that it takes a lot less knowledge to ask a good question as it does to provide a good answer, yet those who ask a lot of questions often end up giving the best impression."
Just think about when you're on a great date — how excited are you when he or she asks for more details about a story? It builds a real camaraderie. To not end up sounding like an interviewer, ask nudging questions like, “What was your favorite part of that?” or "How did you react?" to keep the convo going.
4. Be Responsive With Your Body
When you sit there like a lump with your arms folded and shoulders slumped like you'd rather be anywhere but there, you're not giving off the impression that you're excited to be talking with the person. And that takes all the charisma points away from you in a flash. Instead, use your hands to show that you're excited to be sharing this conversation with the person, and that you're having a wonderful time catching up.
Allan pointed out, "Using your body to emphasize and enhance how you feel or what you're talking about can go a long way. Nobody thinks someone who stands stiff as a board is magnetic or interesting." Use hand gestures and open up your body (i.e. don't keep your legs or arms crossed) to validate to your buddy that you're delighted to be in this moment with them and enjoying their company.
5. Bump Up Your Energy Levels
This isn't news, but people are attracted to uplifting, happy energy. So if you want to appear charismatic, bump up the wattage of your enthusiasm just a smidgen, and people will find you all the more captivating.
Speech and presentation coach Sims Wyeth explained, "Isn't it nice when you call someone on the phone and their voice communicates pleasure and excitement when they hear your name? Even if it's subtle, it makes you feel appreciated. A lively, expressive voice is one of the most powerful instruments in the world, especially when it's resonant and sparkles with changes of pitch, speed, and volume."
Even if it's just adding some warmth when you say someone's name, or letting your face move into a welcoming just-for-you smile, adding a bump of enthusiasm will go a long way in terms of charisma.
6. Mirror Their Body Language
We like things that feel familiar, and the more comfortable we are with a person the more we like 'em. So how do we develop that level of trust and coziness with someone we barely know? Easy: You mirror their body language.
McKay suggested, "Research has shown that by simply mirroring a person’s body language and manner of speaking, they’ll trust you and find you more attractive. Psychologists speculate that mirroring creates limbic resonance between two individuals, making them more empathetic to one another."
This doesn't mean you should go into a weird game of Simon Says with them while you're swapping stories over finger foods. Instead, keep it subtle. If they speak in a slower manner, slow your flow a bit; if they lean forward over the table, move in a little closer, too. It'll make them feel like you're on the same page.
7. Think Of Yourself As The Host
This is probably my most favorite, life-changing piece of advice: If you want to become more charismatic, act like you're the host to every person you speak to. When you have friends or family over at your apartment, you go a little above and beyond to make them all feel welcome and cozy — and, let's be honest — slightly impressed. Following that idea, if you want to exude some serious charisma, just fall into host-mode every time you're in a conversation. That way, making them feel welcomed will come easily.
McKay shared, "When you think of yourself as the host in every situation, figuring out what to do to put others at ease will come more naturally."
So if you want to leave your wallflower, not-really-sure-what-to-do-with-your-hands days behind, just try these subtle little tweaks to your conversation flow, and see what happens! Chances are, you'll be exuding your best Marilyn Monroe charm in no time.