In business relationships, charisma matters. A lot. And charisma is as much about impressions and body language as it is about issues and substance.
I’ve seen many qualified people pose for a promotion (or lose a sale or fail an interview) simply because they couldn’t project an engaging attitude.
Max Weber, the father of sociology, first coined the term “charisma” to describe inspiring leaders. Originating from the Greek kharisma, which means favor or divine gift, charisma has also been defined as âpart of confidence, part of presence and part of sex appealâ.
But however we define it, we know it when we see it. We call someone charismatic when they in some way force us to embrace their vision – be it corporate, social or political.
As a leadership presence coach, I define charisma as a focused passion / energy that results in a perfect congruence between what you say and what you look like when you say it.
Body language communicates your emotions and motivations, likes and dislikes, as well as your interest and disengagement. Whether you are interviewing for a job, pitching your idea to a venture capitalist, or presenting a new business strategy to the board, you are most charismatic and compelling when what you feel internally is perfectly aligned with who you are verbally. speak out. (At this point, your body language automatically conforms to your words.)
That’s why my coaching sessions always start with questions about your emotional intention:
- What is the heart of the message you want to communicate?
- How do you really feel?
- How important is this to you?
- Why do you think others should care?
Charismatic leaders use a wide range of non-verbal warmth and sympathy cues. They display real smiles, maintain positive eye contact, use a variety of gestures, orient their torso towards those they engage with, touch others during conversations, and more.
And anyone can be trained to include more of these positive signals (and reduce unwanted negative signals) in their interactions.
But here’s something else I discovered about charisma: Sometimes all you have to do to be truly awesome is go out of your own way.
I once worked with the head of a research department who was preparing for a big business presentation. One-on-one, this man was charming, intelligent and had a great sense of humor. In informal settings, her body language was congruent and expressive. But he was also an introvert. Put it on stage in front of an audience and it became a nonverbal disaster: he collapsed behind the lectern, read notes without making eye contact with the audience, and used very few gestures.
You might be in a similar situation. When talking with friends, you use your hands and face to describe an event or an object. You smile, frown, shrug, and make broad, illustrative gestures. Yet, during important business presentations, you become anxious or embarrassed. And, as a result, your usually eloquent body language suffers.
If so, you may not need to work on non-verbal techniques. On the contrary, like my client, you might be better off learning to relax and focus more on your audience than on yourself – so that you can let your natural, bubbly personality and body language do the talking.
Mostly, we tend to follow charismatic leaders because they are seen as confident and optimistic. And here you can see the power of the mind / body connection in action.
You already know that the way you feel affects your body language. (If you’re depressed you tend to round your shoulders, slouch, and look down. If you’re upbeat, you tend to smile and stand tall.)
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But did you know that the reverse is also true? The way you stand and carry, your gestures, movements and even your facial expressions affect your emotions by sending messages back to your brain.
In several experiments, individuals were asked to smile and then were shown pictures of various events. Smiling attendees said they liked the photos and even made them feel delighted. When asked to frown during the same type of experiment, subjects reported feelings of annoyance and anger. Additional studies have shown that a smile is not only the result of feeling happy or contented, but also that smiling can induce physiological changes in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. skin resistance. Smiling can make you happier.
So, the next time you want to be seen as your most charismatic self, try these simple yet powerful tips: Start aligning your verbal and non-verbal communication by focusing on the emotional intent of your message. Then stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and keep your head up. By simply assuming this physical position, you will begin to feel more confident. And if you add a smile, you will affect your brain and your attitude even more positively.
You will be irresistible!
Troy Media columnist Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, is an executive coach, consultant and international speaker at corporate, government and community events. She is also the author of STAND OUT: How to Strengthen Your Presence as a Leader. For interview requests, Click here.
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