Controlling Body Language – 3 Things I Learned from the Book Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

*GET THE BOOK* I highly recommend getting this book, it is the best book on charisma and developing it.
Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane –
Listen to the book free on Audible:

The basic premise of the book is this: Is charisma innate in the sense that you have it or you don’t, or is it something that can be learned? Can it be deconstructed and pieced back together such that anyone can do it?
The answer to this question carries large ramifications. People with charisma naturally attract others and this impacts things like leadership, sales, social influence, and general likability. This book says it can be learned and takes a look at it’s components and some tips for how to develop charisma.

1.Charisma Has 3 Components – Presence, High Power, and High Warmth

Many executives, for example, are seeking to increase their ‘presence’ or attain a more executive presence.
Another side of presence is what we all observe in conversation with others. We can tell subconsciously when someone is not ‘fully present’ during a conversation. It might be obvious like using their phone, or more subtle like sensing something is on their mind.
What can we do to make sure we don’t fall into those traps? Especially when society is pushing us into these traps by encouraging distraction and being in a state of constant partial attention?
To develop presence in this world is rare, and therefore that much more valuable. We have the opportunity now to be able to have a 5 minute conversation with someone and create a wow effect. How do we do this? Not as hard as you think, one simple technique is simply focusing on your breath for a moment to reorient yourself into the conversation and be fully present.
Power means being seen as powerful means being perceived as able to affect the world around us. Warmth is goodwill toward others. In other words, it’s determining whether people will use whatever power they have in our favor or not.
We seek out people who have both high power and high warmth, and are naturally drawn to those who combine both. To have power and no warmth comes across as arrogant and standoffish. Warmth without power makes someone look overeager or subservient.
You can tell who is in charge in a room based on others cues. This also shatters the huge myth that charisma is equated to effervescence or gregariousness.

2. Body Language Is Involuntary, But It Can Still Be Controlled.

The book cites an MIT study that showed scientists were able to predict the outcomes of sales calls, business pitches, and negotiations with 87% accuracy from observing only the body language of the participants. We know nonverbal communication is vital, but it is involuntary, so how can we possibly control it?
When we hear a speaker, we often get a certain ‘vibe’ from them. Someone might be technically sound, and have great information, but we get a bad vibe. On the flip side, someone might make a lot of mistakes, but we still get a good vibe and feel a connection with them.
Why is that?
What is on your mind manifests itself in body language. When people speak, their hand gestures and facial expressions will reflect their mental state whether they intend them to or not. You can’t force it, think about when someone smiles at you and you can tell it’s a fake smile. If someone feels superior to you, they can do their best to speak in a respectful manner, but their nonverbal cues will subconsciously alert you to the fact that something with this person is incongruent.
To control your body language means controlling your mental state. This includes things like having a genuine concern for whoever you’re with or speaking to, as well as things like doing gratitude exercises. A good way of understanding this is to watch this clip from the 1992 presidential debate on mute and observe the body language and how you feel. Then go back and watch it with the volume on.
Being in a mental state of gratitude in particular helps to give you presence and warmth.

3. Be Compassionate Toward People

Goodwill is to wish someone well without necessarily knowing how they feel. Empathy is to understand what they feel as perhaps you’ve had similar experience in the past. Compassion is the combination of both. You understand how they feel and you wish them well.
When you meet someone, imagine their past. What was it like growing up in their shoes? Everyone has stories that are heartbreaking. Try to realize that if you grew up with the same experiences as someone else, it is quite possibleyou would have turned out like they did. Imagine their present. What is it like to be them today and what they feel? Then throw some compassion dynamite into the interaction. What if this was their last day alive? What would you say to them?
Empathy is embedded in charisma, you can’t be an effective leader without it.

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