Jackie Onassis had it, so did Pamela Harriman. Hugh Downs and Bill Clinton have it, too.
Charm can be a communicator’s secret weapon. With it, we can communicate with anyone. We can win others to our side.
By using these five tips, you can put the power of charm to work in your own life.
One: Focus. Nothing is as important in developing charm as the ability to communicate with a person as if he or she was the only person in the room.
Someone asked Queen Victoria once whether she preferred the company of Benjamin Disraeli or William Gladstone. She answered that when she dined with Gladstone she felt he was the most interesting man in England, but when she ate with Disraeli she felt she was the most interesting person in the world.
Like Disraeli, we can put our egos aside and focus on the other person. We can make a conscious effort to put others’ wants and needs before our own, and one way we can do it is to ask questions.
“Questions are the sparkplugs of conversation,” says Nicholas Boothman in his book, How To Make People Like You. Through questions, we learn where another’s passion lies, and when we show interest in another’s passion, we are well on our way to establishing rapport.
Questions are only as effective as our ability to listen, and key to listening is providing feedback. “Feedback,” says Ken Blanchard, co-author of the The One-Minute Manager and other motivational books, “is the breakfast of champions.”
Tony Alessandra, Ph.D., is his book Charisma, offers these four suggestions for providing proper feedback:
- Offer verbal responses such as “Hmmm,” “Really?” and “Wow.”
- Provide acknowledging gestures such as smiling, nodding and leaning forward.
- Make clarifying remarks that restate the speaker’s points.
- Establish eye contact.
Eye contact is also important in establishing credibility. In one study, speakers who are rated “sincere” looked at their audiences an average of three times longer than speakers ranked “insincere.”
Two: Help people feel good about themselves. Find something – anything — you can like about a person. People can sense if we like them.
Begin by looking at people with empathy, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. F. Scott Fitzgerald is reported to have once said that the greatest gift you can give anyone is to see him or her exactly as he wishes to be seen.
Three: Smile. Pianist and comedian Victor Borge once described a smile as the “shortest distance between two people.” Anyone can smile, but a sincere smile shows in our eyes and can light up a room.
Four: Remember the details. Charming people remember the details. Charmers remember names and those other details most of us are quick to forget. Keep notes if you need help remembering.
Top salespeople maintain customer files. By referring to their files, these salespeople are able to refresh their memories and demonstrate a personal interest in their clients’ lives.
Five: Be energetic, enthusiastic and positive. People who possess personal magnetism are usually self-confident optimists. Be upbeat, sing praises, and freely give appreciation. Energy, enthusiasm and a positive attitude are contagious.
In summary, charm can be learned, but it still must be earned. Sincerity and warmth cannot be faked; they must come from within. When we are naturally charming, we are at our communications best.
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