Can You Learn to be More Charismatic? 6 Common Myths

Charisma can seem like an unattainable quality, but consider these common charisma myths and let the facts speak for themselves. 

Myth 1: Charisma is Magical and Mysterious 

Sorry for the disenchantment, but experts agree that charisma can be broken down into concrete behaviors that can be learned, practiced, and made natural. The Charisma Myth, by Olivia Fox Cabane identifies the three main markers of charisma as: Presence, Power, and Warmth.  

Boiled down, the Presence, Power, and Warmth of charisma is about how you value others.  When you start perceiving others as valuable, others start perceiving you as magnetically charismatic.  Maybe that’s a little magical after all. 

Myth 2: Charisma is Determined at Birth and Can’t Be Learned

You know those magnetic but non-magical Presence, Power, and Warmth components? Here’s a few tips to get you started

  • Don’t think about your response while someone else is talking.  Formulating an impressive response distracts you from the speaker and message.  Try waiting at least two seconds before verbally responding, and let your facial expression react first. Charisma doesn’t fear “awkward” silences. 
  • Make eye contact.  Your visual focus says what you think is worth paying attention to. 
  • Silence your phone.  In conversations, focus on being present and conveying warmth. 
  • Relax your posture.  Power poses are a visual charisma signal. 
  • Be curious.  Charisma is never bored or boring. 

Myth 3: Only Extroverts Can Be Charismatic 

Cabane explains that charisma doesn’t equate to uber-social extroversion.  Elon Musk is an example of an introvert with charismatic presence.  Musk counterbalances his introverted tendencies by managing his social energy.  

Rather than trying to be a chatty person in social settings, you can focus your attention on a few people at a time.  Being “magnetic” doesn’t mean “life of the party;” the true charismatic values quality over quantity.  Charisma makes others feel valued, which brings us to the next myth: 

Myth 4: Charisma is All About You 

When you think of charisma, you might think of trying to make yourself seem super awesome to others.  But writer and producer, Patrick Allen says the paradoxical secret of charisma is not about trumpeting your good qualities, but making the other person feel good.  And narcissists beware, because you can’t fake this one.  Counterfeit charisma is easily sniffed out! 

Myth 5: Charisma is Shallow 

Celebrity psychologist Richard Reid, aka “Mr. Charisma,” notes that real communication and depth are essential to charisma.  Charisma is about the positive feeling you engender in other people—being able to connect on a deeper level.  It requires your whole self; that means communicating with words and body language and articulating a positive message to the person you are connecting with. 

Myth 6: Charismatic Power Equals Fame and Fortune 

Not always.  Cabane says that while charismatic individuals tend to be perceived as “powerful” people, but this doesn’t mean they are always CEOs, politicians, or celebrities.  Charismatic people can have humble stories and jobs, and yet still retain power.  Power, according to Cabane, means “being perceived as able to affect the world around us . . . whether through influence on or authority over others, large amounts of money, expertise, intelligence, sheer physical strength, or high social status.”  But remember the adage that correlation doesn’t equal causation. 

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