How to be charismatic
FT features writer Emma Jacobs visits Richard Reid, a psychologist and charisma coach, to see if anyone can learn to be charismatic.
Filmed by Carlos Homer. Produced by Daniel Garrahan
So do you think I'm uncharismatic then?
No, not at all. I think you--
Are you diagnosing me as uncharismatic?
I mean, would you say that to someone?
No, I would ever say that to somebody, even if it were probably true. The one thing I'd say straightaway is that's fine.
But there's no animation there. Just trying to gauge your hands in the process.
So what? I'm a woman, I work at the financial--
It doesn't have to be just hands. Doesn't have to be just hands.
Well, how would it work, then?
It could just be that you use your hands to punctuate the key points. So hi, my name's Richard. I'm a psychologist, and I work in a number of different areas. But one of the areas that I like to work in most of all is charisma. So pause.
What's that, though?
So that is about opening it up. It's reinforcing it, so it's charisma. The key points when it comes to communication are really about, again, being purposeful with what we put across. And part of that is about how we structure sentences. Do we have short sentences? Is it very clear where the pause is? What the focus of that sentence is? All of these things will have a major bearing upon how we're received and how authoritative we're seen to be.
I mean, we're focusing on communication. Is that what charisma is?
It's a big part of it, yeah. It's the language that goes with it. Close your eyes for me. What I want you to do for starters is I want you to think about a really good holiday that you've been on. Are you getting any positive feeling as you think about that?
It's a bit conflicted, actually, because I keep thinking I'm thinking of one without the children.
OK. OK, can you think of a situation without the children?
Yes, nice and relaxing. And then I start thinking I'm a bad mum because I'm thinking about having no children.
OK, so what I want you to do is just bring your thumb and the forefinger of your right hand together. Just hold that for 10 seconds, and just keep focused on that memory. So straightaway, what you've got there is an internal resource that you've drawn upon, and you've actually chosen to think about it. And it's made you feel different. When you think about kickers in rugby, they will often do a little ritual before they go to kick the ball.
And that's potentially what you're doing there. You're thinking about something. And what we're doing there is linking that feeling with an action. And through rehearsing it, you can get to the point where you no longer have to close your eyes. Just the very act of bringing that thumb and forefinger together brings up the same emotions.
Is it a sales con, charisma? If I learned to be good at being charismatic, am I swindling people?
It's about giving people the authentic version of yourself. People are very good at ultimately knowing whether people are inauthentic or authentic. So it's about giving people parts of who you are in a way which is polishing the edges of who you are. It's not about creating somebody that you're not, or telling people things that simply aren't true. We all know fake charisma-- car salesmen, telly sales, where people buy things and then live to regret it. So the buyer's remorse. It's not about that at all.