Charisma may be hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Charismatic people have that magnetic quality that seems to attract others in social situations—the conversation flows smoothly both to and from them.
A unique trait that makes someone “likable” and “easy to talk to,” charisma is about more than just confidence. It’s about being approachable, making a positive first impression, reading social cues gracefully, being your authentic self, and having the verbal ability to make small talk fun.
In short, charisma—or “rizz,” as Gen Z refers to it these days—is another word for that special something called charm. However, this particular kind of charm isn’t manufactured. In fact, it extends far beyond the surface level. Charismatic people are often emotionally intelligent, sensitive, and just as interested in genuinely connecting with others as they are in presenting the best version of themselves.
Although charismatic people make it look so easy and natural, this characteristic is typically developed over time, through lots of experience. The reason people keep working on it is because charisma is incredibly valuable in so many arenas, from job interviews and professional leadership to dating and making friends. This simple guide will show you how to put together the fundamental building blocks of charisma.
Boost your charisma with these simple habits
Broadly speaking, you can break down the social skill of charisma into three main categories: body language, friendliness, and authenticity.
Becoming fluent in body language
Like any form of communication, body language is a two-way street. It’s not only about reading other people’s signs and signals, but mastering your own, so that you’re in control of how you present yourself through non-verbal cues.
The most basic skills here are eye contact and smiling. Keep in mind that these behaviors aren’t all-or-nothing—what you want to aim for is a healthy balance that shows confidence and conveys your interest in your conversation partner, without being too intense. Just making a point to meet the glance of your conversation partner with a warm expression now and then will go a long way.
You can also focus on facing people head-on while talking and listening, as well as gesturing while you talk to increase your sense of engagement.
Exuding a friendly aura
At a recent Meetup Live event, friendship expert and best-selling author Dr. Marisa G. Franco described how you can set yourself up for successful connections with new people. One of her key tips is to approach every encounter with a positive mindset, believing that people will like you. This kind of “benefit of the doubt” approach can help reduce your anxiety and indecision. Plus, when you’re feeling comfortable and open to possibility, that feeling is infectious!
Other tips for creating a friendly atmosphere include:
- Introducing yourself
- Greeting newcomers to the conversation
- Keeping the mood light
- Asking questions and follow-ups
- Giving your full attention
- Making an effort to remember people’s names
Being your authentic self
Coming across as genuine and relatable makes a big difference in any social setting. When someone tries to be more appealing by creating a manufactured version of their personality, it usually backfires. People generally have a strong “radar” that exposes this kind of performative interaction. On the other hand, when you embrace who you are, it helps other people see that you’re self-secure, trustworthy, and willing to be vulnerable.
Practice being charismatic through healthy and fun social activities
Like any other skill, charisma takes practice. From those people who seem naturally gifted to the late bloomers on the social scene, everyone who wants to be likable needs opportunities to learn and grow.
To put yourself in more social situations, the easiest thing you can do is take full advantage of the events that naturally cross your path, like birthday parties, work functions, family occasions, and happy hours. Then, you can take it up a level by actually seeking out social activities you might not be aware of yet. Meetup events are a great resource for this because there’s something for everyone, with a huge range of interests and hobbies being explored both in person and online.
For example, you could do anything from Knitting Around New York to capturing scenic Miami beaches on film with The Art of Photography International. Maybe you want to drink local brews and learn about ancient philosophy with Nashville Stoics, or simply meet fellow dog owners and spend some time outdoors with San Diego Dog Meetup – #PackWalk.
For the purposes of practicing your charisma, the topic of each event is just the icing on the cake. As long as you’re getting together with new people, giving yourself a healthy challenge, and making genuine connections, you’re doing it right! You can even create your own Meetup group and invite others to join you for a laid-back hang, an awesome adventure, or something in between.
James Quigley is a writer, editor, and educator whose work has received Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations. James was born and raised in New York, where he lives and works as a freelance writer. See more of his writing here.
Last modified on September 26, 2023