People who can pull you into their world by diving into yours have always fascinated me. It’s a gift. I wrote about how people like President Clinton fires up his bulldozer of charm to win people over, but I wanted to witness this in person so I could learn first-hand how to be charming.
I’ve never been overly charming, but have always secretly wanted to. More than once it’s been said that I have an edge and apparently edgy and charming don’t play well together. I set out to change that a bit.
The most charming person I know is a woman. She can make anyone feel like the only person in the world. I watched her in action and took notes. What I found out is that you can learn this skill (to a certain point). It can also be used as a manipulation tool, but I trust that everyone reading this will be using it for good and not evil.
Here are the steps to become more charming.
1) Smile: it seems simple, but is really hard for most people to do on the spot (I can’t). Smiling at a person disarms them. And to charm someone, you first need to disarm them. They need to feel that you’re not going to attack, criticize or berate them. The woman I watched had a smile that disarmed the person she was talking to in about half a second.
2) Make real eye contact. Not the kind of eye contact that says: “I’m thinking very bad things,” but the kind that says “I’m interested in what you’re saying.” This really helps to make a connection.
3) Greet them like you’ve been waiting to see them and you’re thrilled it’s finally happening. Everyone wants to be accepted and this is the first real step. Don’t go overboard like an 11-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber or a 42-year-old burnout meeting Tommy Lee, but a sincere greeting with eye contact and a smile. A handshake or a hug (if that’s what you’re into) is also a great tool.
3) Ask the other person about something they’re passionate about. No matter how dumb it is. When I watched this person in action the subject she brought up was raising bees. Is there anything less interesting? She couldn’t have cared less, but the guy couldn’t wait to talk about it. He dove right in. Asking “why” and “how” are powerful tools here.
4) Treat them as if they were the most important person in the world. What this means is that no matter who else comes up to you, don’t abandon this person until the conversation is over. Nothing makes a person feel worse than to have you move on to “a better offer.” Introduce them and make them feel accepted by not only you, but others as well. You also do this by talking about them, not you.
5) Treat everyone the same, regardless of their place in life. Charming people treat the president the same as their waiter. People see this and it goes a long way about how they’ll feel about you long after you’re gone.
These tips won’t give you power like President Clinton overnight, but it’s a good start. Remember, getting what you want out of life only happens when you help others do the same. The real secret to being charming is to take a real interest, curiosity and excitement in other people’s lives.