What is Charisma?

[I’m posting this in IMHO because I want what to know what the Teeming Millions think charisma is, not what the dictionary says. You guys are way cooler than the OED. And I don’t think this is quite a big enough question to warrant Great Debates - but Mods, if I have erred, please accept my apologies.]

What makes a person “charismatic”? We’ve all met charismatic people - they’re the ones in bars or parties that everyone is talking to, the politicians you can’t help but like, the natural leaders who even in high school took to the Student Council presidency like they’d been born to the role.

But how does charisma work? Is it just a personality trait - mix a dash of intelligence, social skills, and self-confidence, and you’ve got charisma? Or is our perceptions of charismatic-ness just the person in question drawing, consciously or otherwise, on sets of verbal and nonverbal cues that we’re conditioned to respond to? And where does Al Gore trying to become an “alpha male” fit into all this?

Discuss, deliberate, have fun. I’ll come back with beer. :slight_smile:

I saw Clinton at a Labor Day picnic when he was running for prez.
He just walked around the stage shaking everyone’s hand like they were old school chums. All were thrilled, and responded with obvious pleasure. Yet, since he had arrived into town minutes earlier, it was clear he knew none of them.
That may only work when you’re already famous, but maybe he’s always been like that.

Hmm- yeah, it seems like for that to have worked one would have to be famous. If I were to just walk into a room at random and start acting like I new everybody, it would be seen as somewhat irritating. But fame obviously isn’t needed for charisma - I know several non-famous people I’d describe as “charismatic”. So what else is there?

She used to play Cordelia on Buffy and Angel.

Okay two things: one, I don’t know why I spelled “knew” n-e-w. I’m literate, honest.

Second, I promised beer. Here it is. drops thirty-rack on floor enjoy. :slight_smile:

Jthunder, I think you’ve already had enough.

Interesting question-

Charisma is most specifically (to me) the ability of a person to make you think that they are speaking directly to you, even if they are addressing a multitude, and if they are speaking directly to you that you are the most interesting, and most important person in the world. It’s more art than science, and I think a healthy chunk of it is really beyond the reach of training. It’s one of those, “you’ve either got it you don’t” things.

IMO, in it’s primal essence it’s a focus on being communicative and engaged with other people, and it’s amazing to me how body language, gestures, and eye contact can communicate 99% of this to other people before a word is spoken.

Charisma? Just role a couple dice to find out what yours is . . .

Charisma is the ability to put the other person in the spotlight, that you are genuinely interested in him or her.

Happy, spontaneous, sympathetic, ego-less, polite, brave, intelligent, flattering, humble. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. :smiley:

Only two? That must explain why yours is so low. :wink:

Charisma is a combination of self-confidence and social skills. (I was going to say empathy but some sociopaths are very charismatic, so social skills sounds better to me.) To be Charismatic someone has to believe that they are a great person, god’s gift to everybody, and have the ability to come off charming while believing this. Self-confidence without social skills makes people relentless assholes, while social skills without self confidence makes them seem “nice” rather than charismatic.

Charisma is the child of one of my former students.

Yes, she named her daughter Charisma.

Scary, huh?

Actually, ccwaterback is pretty much right on the money. On both counts.

I had a copy of the old Dale Carnegie standby, How to win friends and influence people, which went walk-about. Whoever borrowed it hopefully put it to good use. I don’t know if you are looking for a debate on the characteristics of charisma, or a how-to on being the Magnetic One. If it’s the latter, it’s a decent starting point.

Problem with Carnegie is that it does not work with total depressives.

I just tried to jot down some of the characteristic words that describe charismatic people I have known. I try to be all these things, and on some days I hit the bulls eye, other days I’m just not up to it.

I think Larry Borgia’s comment pretty much nailed charisma.

A couple more words to add to my list: confident and generous.

IMO, this is le mot juste.

What a lot of people don’t talk about though, is that charisma is a double-edged sword; charismatic people can either be manipulative, scary bastards, or people who genuinely make the world a better place. I know of one of each.

Elinor Glyn called charisma “It,” and said that “To have ‘It,’ the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes. He or she must be entirely unself-conscious and full of self-confidence, indifferent to the effect he or she is producing, and uninfluenced by others. There must be physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary.”

. . . For what it’s worth.

Hey ccwaterback

Thanks! :slight_smile: