In earlier posts, I have given an overview of charisma, and, I have introduced the three keys to charisma, presence, power, and warmth as described in Fox Cabane’s book, the Charisma Myth. Here I address presence, the foundation of charisma, and give tips on how to develop it as a personal and business skill.
Why be present?
Charismatic presence helps you do the following:
Boost Confidence. When you focus on what’s happening now, you wall out your worries and
anxieties. Being right there, fully-attentive when you speak with a customer or employee, earns you an aura of authority and authenticity.
Improve Listening. You are able to listen better to your customers and employees and show them through your body language and eye contact that you are really listening to them. You can also tune out distractions in your environment, so that you can better hear what is being said.
Increase Learning. You are able to learn more from your interactions with other people, because you are taking in what they have to say and paying closer attention to their body language. You are also able to provide better information to others because you understand their real questions.
Enhance Customer Service and Offerings. You can provide customers what they really need and want if you are focused on them. You can’t if your mind is dwelling on what you think they want or what you are worried they will want.
Win Loyalty. Exuding presence in your business and in your community can win you trusted followers. Because you stand out as authentic and make others feel more important, you are more persuasive at attracting others to promote you, your ideas, and your business.
One way to start becoming present more often is to become aware of when you aren't paying attention to what is happening now and then draw yourself back to attention. You have probably had the experience of driving in your car and realizing you were not consciously aware of changing lanes or what you saw along the road during the last segment of the drive. Instead, you were caught up in your thoughts recounting an event or developing an idea in your head. If you don’t pull yourself into focus, you might drive on past your exit, speed past a police officer, or worse.
I sometimes catch myself at my Zumba exercise dance class, working out business strategies or making a shopping list. Although I mirror every move the instructor makes, I am not really present. I pull myself back to appreciate the time away from my endless thoughts to enjoying the music and the company of the other dancers.
You have no doubt had the feeling of being only half-there when you were talking to a friend or family member. Even if this only happens for a split second, the person you speak with will notice it in your body language. Your eyes might glaze over. You might shift your shoulders slightly away. You might give a barely audible sigh.
If you seem to be listening, but signal that you are not fully listening, the other person will pick up that something does not quite jive. She might think, why did he look over there, am I boring him? Not only will the person feel less interesting in your eyes, but also you risk appearing less authentic to them, and possibly less honest.
The Art of Being Present
I have found the Argentine tango an excellent way to develop presence, and Fox Cabane
particularly recommends it. Whether you are following or leading in tango, you have to be focused on your partner and on every small shift in movement your partner makes. If you start to daydream, consider how a turn is made, or glance at other dancers, you lose concentration and will fall out of alignment and out of step.
Partner dances, as well as partner martial arts, are good ways to build charismatic presence as
they bring in the interaction with another person. Singing and playing instruments with a partner
or a group also help you get in the moment and in-sync with others.
In the Moment Strategies for Presence
You don’t have to become a yogi or win a ballroom dance prize, before you can apply presence
to a business or social conversation. At your next opportunity, you can try these on-the-spot
strategies, based on those that Fox Cabane teaches:
1. Focus on your toes. What are they feeling? Sense the ground beneath your feet. This will cause you to scan your body and change your attention away from what you have been doing and thinking about previously.
2. Look into the eyes. When you are face to face with someone you are talking to, focus on all of the colors in their eyes.
3. Give the star treatment. When you speak, don’t aim to be intelligent and fascinating, aim to make the other person feel as if they are intelligent and fascinating.
If you want more details on these and other charisma strategies, Fox Cabane explains them in her book The Charisma Myth and, briefly, in a speech she gave at Stanford University.
I also suggest that you observe people around you. Who uses the strategies of presence? Who doesn't? How does presence or lack of it, make you feel? How do others react to people who seem present and focused on them during conversations.
Let me know how these strategies to develop presence work for you and the reactions you have been getting in the comments below what results you have had. I hope you begin to feel more charismatic and that it brings a new energy to your business and social life.