I'll show you how

Can we bust a myth right now?

A common misconception is that highly charismatic people are perfect. That their charisma comes from their superior, skills, income or looks. But this is not the case at all!

Being charismatic is about perfectly embracing imperfections.

Wondering what on earth I am talking about? Let’s go to the science:

5 Habits of Exceptionally Charismatic People:

Habit #1: Embrace Imperfections

Psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted a study where two actresses sell a blender to mall goers. Actress one had a perfect presentation and produced a flawless smoothie to viewers. Actress two had a great presentation but “accidentally” forgot to tighten the lid and the smoothie splashed all over her.

Can you guess who sold more blenders and who was rated higher by audience members?

Actress #2, ‘the clumsy’ woman, was rated as more likeable. Wiseman found that her vulnerability humanized her and therefore increased her influence on the audience.

This vulnerability effect has been shown over and over again in the research. When we admit to weakness, others connect with us and see us as more likeable. So, I want you to embrace your imperfections. Don’t feel the need to be perfect, impressive or superior. Just be yourself!

Habit #2: Don’t Be A Conversational Narcissist

My uncle once told me, “You have two ears and one mouth so that should match the rate you speak and listen.” I have never forgotten those wise words. Charismatic people know how to listen and listen well. They maintain the 2:1 ratio of listening to speaking. The easiest way to speak less and listen more is to:

Ask tons of clarification questions.

Instead of staying on the surface at networking events, dig deeper by asking follow-up questions and for examples. Not only will you understand more about them, you also increase your connection. And remember, when you’re speaking, you aren’t learning. Need a little help in the conversation department? We have tons of conversation sparkers in our book Captivate!


Habit #3: Gush Don’t Gossip

There is a scientific principle called “Spontaneous Trait Transference“. This fascinating behavior shows that when you speak ill of someone else people can’t help but associate that trait to you. In other words, if you say someone is mean and shallow–the person listening can’t help but assign those traits to you as well. This finding shows us why our mommas might have been right when they told us not to gossip! Never, ever speak ill of others. If you want to talk about someone, try gushing. Pick someone who you adore and share all of their awesome qualities. I try very hard to practice gushing, not gossiping and I have found that it is wonderful to speak genuinely about people you respect and admire.

  • One way I do this is when I am introducing two people who might not know each other, I not only say, “Aaron meet Jess, Jess meet Aaron.” But then I go on to explain a bit about what they do and why they rock.
  • Something like this: “Aaron meet Jess, she is a fantastic pastry chef at a local bakery. She is too shy to admit it but her secret scone recipe is to die for. And Jess, you have to meet Aaron. Aaron is a tech entrepreneur working on an amazing company that is using 3D printers to create car parts. We better watch out because in the next few years he will probably be on the cover of Time magazine!”
  • In this way, I get to talk about two people I genuinely respect and admire, share their stories and put them at ease–they can’t brag about themselves, but I can!

Habit #4: Hand Power

In one of our citizen science experiments, we analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks looking for patterns. We found that the most popular TED talks had distinct nonverbal patterns. One thing we saw was that the best TED talkers used their hands to explain their words. The least viewed TED talks used an average of 272 hand gestures but the most viewed TED talks used 465 gestures! Crazy right? Why? Your hands are your trust indicators. The most charismatic speakers not only keep them visible but use them to emphasize their words. See the full results of the TED experiment here or watch below:

Habit #5: Deep Gazing

Studies have found that people who deep gaze–by noticing eye color or blink rate have a much stronger connection. When you are with someone:

  • Put all of your stuff away–don’t hold your phone in your hand, don’t leave it on the table, turn the buzzer off.
  • Notice their eye color.

Want to dig a little deeper into the Science of Charisma? Check out our latest book Captivate!

Book Descriptioncaptivate, captivate book, vanessa van edwards

Do you wish you could decode people? Do you want a formula for charisma? Do you want to know exactly what to say to your boss, your date or your networking partner? You need to know how people work.

As a human behavior investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards studies the hidden forces that drive our behavior patterns in her lab—and she’s cracked the code. In Captivate she shares a wealth of valuable shortcuts, systems and behavior hacks for taking charge of their interactions at work, at home, and in any social situation. These aren’t the people skills you learned in school. This is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on human behavior and a completely new approach to building connections.

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