How to Become Magnetic: A Guide to Charm and Charisma
My close friend Jason Connell is dangerously charismatic. After meeting him only twice, my fiancé felt so close to him, that she asked him to officiate our wedding later this summer.
Jason’s ability to charm, understand, and connect with people has enabled him to create a life most people can only dream of.
A short list of examples includes:
- Two months after moving across the US to a city where he knew no one, he was hosting epic dinner parties with influential thought leaders.
- He doesn’t have to put much effort into meeting girls because his female friends go out of their way to set him up with gorgeous women. At one point, he was even dating two models at the same time.
- He periodically scores invites to celebrity parties, including an invitation to have dinner with one of his idols, Penn Jillette, at Penn’s house.
- As an entrepreneur, his businesses have grown organically and often outpace competition because his clients actually care about him and want to invest in his success.
- And on a personal note, whenever I spend time with Jason, I always learn something about charisma, human connection, and even myself. It leaves me looking forward to the next time we hang out.
You might think that Jason is some sort of suave, extroverted dude. But that’s not the case.
In his own words Jason is, “Deceptively shy and a bit awkward.” The secret to Jason’s appeal is his understanding of human behavior, which he leverages to make people feel important and appreciated. This results in people wanting to be around him and striving for a deeper connection.
In today’s article, Jason will take you step by step through the process of accessing your own inner charisma.
August 26, 2011: In three days, I leave for an eight-week speaking tour. I’m stressed, nervous, and plagued with self-doubt. When I glance at my computer, I notice an email from my friend, C*.
The subject line reads, “A little dramatic flair for your day.”
When I open the email, all it says is, “FedEx tracking number: 876822669609”
Two days later, a thin, FedEx envelope arrives. I rip it open and discover a mix CD, a handwritten tracklist, and a note wishing me good luck on the tour.
To this day, that CD remains one of my most cherished possessions.
I am not a naturally charming guy…
Have you ever met one of those people who seems totally magnetic? People get excited to see him, his parties are always packed, women slip him their numbers, and no one ever seems to charge him full price for coffee?
Yeah. I used to be the exact opposite of that guy. As a child, I hated going to family reunions because it meant I’d have to talk to people. I didn’t start making eye contact with people until I was 19. Though I had always wanted a girlfriend, I didn’t have one until I was 23.
I dreamt of being magnetic. I wanted people to be excited to spend time with me. More than that, I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin, so I set out to see if it was possible to learn charm and charisma (hint: it totally is).
Instead of reading books and articles, I did something unusual: I sought out extremely charismatic people and interviewed them. Then I sought out people who were disliked by others and interviewed them too. As it turns out, there is a distinct difference between how the two groups approach life.
I started experimenting with what I was learning from the charismatic people. To my delight, I noticed that people were becoming more excited to see me. I was invited to more parties than I could attend. Women flirted with me more frequently and boldly than ever before. Best of all, the connections I was forming with people – sometimes complete strangers – were very deep and very real.
I felt like I had uncovered a superpower.
In this article, I’m going to take you step-by-step through the process of accessing your natural charm and charisma. You’ll start by developing the mindset of a charming person. From there, you’ll learn guidelines for charming and connecting with a wide variety of people.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to waste your time with a bunch of plasticy tricks or encourage you to be someone you’re not. Instead, I’m going to show you how to harness your innate magnetism. All it takes is learning how to draw it out, and that begins with understanding…
The foundations of personal magnetism
When I set out to interview charismatic people, I expected to find hidden character traits or consistent behaviors responsible for their appeal. To my surprise, I noticed very little consistency among magnetic people.
What I did discover was a mindset that seemed to be shared by all of the charming people I interviewed. It was this mindset that enabled them to create compelling charisma. Specifically, they held two beliefs:
Belief 1: I am a great person.
Belief 2: The people around me are great too.
Your beliefs shape your reality. If you believe that you’re awesome, and that other people are too, then you’re going to love life, and people are going to love you.
The opposite is also true. If you believe that you’re unlikable and that no one enjoys being around you, you will feel as though people don’t enjoy being around you (even if they do).
This however presented a new problem for me: when I started studying charisma, I didn’t think I was a great guy. I felt like I didn’t have a lot to offer. If you can relate to this, don’t worry. You can shift your mindset with a few simple tricks.
Shifting your mindset
The easiest way to become more charismatic is to adopt the beliefs of the highly charismatic mentioned above. Here’s how…
Creating the belief that you’re great: Have you ever noticed that the world looks like whatever you focus on? Look around the room you’re in and try to find as many blue objects as possible. I bet you found a bunch. However, since your attention was focused on blue, I bet you didn’t pay any attention to the red objects in your room. This is normal. You’ll notice that if you look around your room again looking for red objects, you find many.
The same exact thing happens with your perception of yourself but with one important distinction. Your mind focuses more energy on what’s wrong with you than it does on what’s great about you. This is called the Negativity Bias, and it’s a well-documented perceptual flaw. Because of the Negativity Bias, most people severely underestimate how great they are.
To adopt the mindset of a charismatic person, train your mind to notice your own awesomeness. For many, this is as easy as making a list of great things about you. Start by writing (yes, a pen and paper) 10 things that are great about you. These can be profound things like supporting your family while still a teenager, mundane things like owning a cool hoodie, or anything in between.
By the way, do this now. Write 10 great things about yourself.
As you think of new ways that you’re awesome, add them to the list. When people give you compliments, write those down too. Reading your list from time to time (like as you’re getting ready for a date or when you’re feeling down) will reinforce the truth about your worth.
Creating the belief that the people around you are great: the easiest way to discover how great people really are is by taking genuine interest in them. You can do this by asking bold, open-ended questions that you find interesting. A few that I ask all the time:
- What’s your relationship to God/spirituality?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- What’s your favorite book? Why do you love it?
- Do your dreams influence your waking life?
- Where is your favorite place in the world?
- If money weren’t an issue what would you be doing right now?
- What drugs have you done?
- What’s been on your mind lately?
You’ll notice that some of these are very personal questions. Be sure to let the person know it’s ok not to answer. As long as you’re non-judgmental and cool with answering the question yourself, it’s fine to ask.
Here’s an example of how this plays out in real life: last week I was having lunch with someone I had just met. He mentioned that he just returned from a trip to Colombia. I asked him, “Did you do coke while you were in Colombia?”
At first, he seemed surprised by the directness of my question. However, he went on to mention that he did, in fact, try coke in Colombia, and it resulted in a drug dealer trying to kill him. Not only was this an amazing story, but it led to a great conversation about life, death, and living in the moment.
To be clear, I’m not encouraging you to ask everyone you meet if they’ve snorted coked recently (though that would be interesting…). Instead, ask questions that you personally find interesting.
Genuine interest will make the person you’re speaking with feel important and respected. It gives them a chance to show themselves off. When you give people this opportunity, they can’t help but like you. On top of that, most people are yearning to form real connections but don’t know how. When you ask a great question, you create the opportunity to connect with someone on an intimate level. It’s like you’re giving them a gift.
Guidelines for creating irresistible charm and charisma
At it’s core, charm and charisma is about making people feel cared about.
What follows are four guidelines to help you express your natural magnetism. Following each guideline is an action step to help you practice what you’ve learned. Think of it as your own personal charm school.
A quick note before we begin: none of these techniques are obscure or difficult. In fact, most are simple. The power rests not in knowing them, but in using them consistently. My hope is that you experiment with the ideas below, and watch as the world begins to fall in love with you.
Guideline 1: create connections with the people around you. Confession: I am consumed by the drama and excitement of my own life. In fact, my life takes up nearly all of my energy and attention.
Of course, the same is true of you and your life. In fact, this is true of everyone.
Everyone is captivated by their own lives, creating a reality where people tend to collide and bounce off one another much more often than they connect with one another.
To enhance your charisma, start connecting with people by showing interest in their lives.
To charm strangers or people you only see from time to time, this can be as easy as asking the following questions:
“How’s your day going?” or “What’s your name?”
I know this seems overly simplistic. The trick is to actually care. When you do, you’ll be surprised by the number of people you touch and the joy that just learning their name brings.
To charm the people you’re closer to, try more personal questions, such as, “I’ve seen you a few times recently, but I haven’t really checked in with you. How are you doing these days? What’s been on your mind?”
All of these gestures are simple. Their power rests in the demonstration that you care about the other person and their reality.
Action step: when you go to your local coffee shop, ask the person behind the counter how her day’s going and what her name is. Say, “Hey, I just realized I’ve seen you a few times, but never actually asked you what your name is. What’s your name? How are you?”
Pro tip: if you’re not great with names, write it down. It’s going to be useful later on.
Guideline 2: follow up on the details. A* is one of the best bartenders I’ve ever met. By the third time I came into her bar, she greeted me by name and asked if I wanted the usual. I was dumbfounded. She meets hundreds of people a week, and somehow, she remembered me.
Today, A* is a close friend. I recently asked her, “How the hell did you remember my name and order so quickly?”
She blushed and admitted that she keeps a running list of the people who come to her bar. She uses her phone to record their names, their appearance, and their drink of choice.
I asked why she did this, expecting her to say something about increasing tips. Instead, she shyly responded, “I like making people feel special.”
A* is a genius. By putting in just a bit of effort, she’s able to make many people feel cared about. Because she makes people feel special, they’re more likely to tip her, help her when she needs something, and ask her out.
You can do this too.
To charm strangers and people you don’t know well, this is as easy as remembering and using their names when you run into them. If you have trouble with names, write them down like A* does.
To charm people close to you (or to deepen your connection with someone), take note of what seems important to them. You can tell what’s important to someone by what they talk about more often or with more emotion than the other stuff in their life. Once you’ve noticed what’s important to someone, follow up on it a few days later.
Let’s say that you just went on a date with a woman you like. At one point in the evening, she mentioned that she spent the day helping her Mom prepare for a job interview. She said she felt honored that her Mom asked her for advice.
Text the woman and ask, “Hey, how’d your Mom’s interview go?” She’ll be touched that you cared enough to remember and check in.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to dating. Ask your friend how training for his marathon is going, your brother if his diet is working, and your coworker if her soccer coach is still being a jerk.
Action step: remember the barista from the last action step? Next time you see her, greet her by name and ask how her day’s going. Let’s say her name is Sameera. When you get to the front of the line, say, “Hey Sameera, good to see you! How’s it going?”
When you do this, watch her face. You’ll notice that she can’t help but light up when she realizes you’ve remembered her.
Note: this is very similar to the last action step, but the effect is exponentially more powerful since you’ve demonstrated that you care enough about the person to remember her name.
Guideline 3: Go out of your way to improve someone’s day. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned a CD that one of my friends, C*, sent me five years ago. This small gift had a massively powerful effect on me because C* put thought and effort into making it. The mix made me feel great and acted as an unsolicited reminder that he cared about me.
Gestures like this are insanely powerful. The secret is to think about what would delight the other person (as opposed to what would delight you). C* loves movies, but instead of sending me the gift he’d want to receive (a movie), he sent me a gift that I’d love to receive (a CD).
To charm someone close to you, do what C* did. Spend a few minutes figuring out how you can improve their day (or their life), and then do it.
This can be as simple as using Amazon to send an inexpensive gift or as significant as introducing them to a potential employer. The scale is up to you. Ask yourself, “What can I do to delight this person?”
To charm a stranger, all you need to do is invest 30 seconds into improving their day. Pause for a moment, imagine the person’s reality, think of something that might make her smile and follow through.
The easiest thing is to give a sincere compliment. Everyone loves receiving compliments.
But of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to compliments. My favorite example of charming a stranger happened to an old roommate. She had a tough day and was crying on a park bench. A stranger gave her a pack of tissues, an orange juice, and a balloon and said, “It will be ok. You’re a good girl.” He then walked away.
Action step: think of one of your friends who could use a pick-me-up. Think of something that would delight your friend and take action. A few ideas:
- Use Venmo or paypal to send $12 for a pizza on you
- Book a surprise trip to spend the weekend together
- Mail a small, personalized gift with a note (like C* did for me)
- Tell him to keep an afternoon clear for a surprise. Then, spend the afternoon doing his favorite activities.
Get creative here. The more personalized thought you put into this, the more powerful it will be.
Guideline 4: Take delight in other people, and let them delight you. Most people are deceptively guarded. The obvious effect of being reserved is that you don’t share much of yourself with the world.
The subtler – and arguably sadder – effect of being guarded is that you don’t express your appreciation of other people as enthusiastically or often as you could. This leads to both you and other people in your life feeling artificially distant from one another. Where there could be warmth and connection, there is disconnection.
Cut through the distance by telling people how much you appreciate them. When they do something that delights you, let them know.
Practically speaking, you can do this by sharing any of the following with someone:
- A specific attribute of theirs that you admire
- Your favorite story about him
- The moment you first realized how amazing she was
- The simple reality that knowing her makes your life better, with a few example of how she’s improved your life
As you get in the habit of openly appreciating the people in your life, they’ll draw closer to you. Many will start expressing their appreciation of you, too. When they do, pause for a moment and let their comments sink in. Feel the weight of their words. Remember, charm isn’t just about making other people feel awesome; it’s also about you feeling awesome.
You’ll notice that this guideline doesn’t distinguish between charming strangers and friends. This is because sincerely telling someone you appreciate them converts acquaintances into friends and friends into companions.
Action step: tell someone close to you one thing you admire about him or her. You can do this by email, phone, or bring it up in conversation. My favorite time to do this is right after I noticed the behavior I admire.
The secret to charm and charisma…
Most people are plagued by a quiet but profound sense of isolation. This sense of isolation is a powerful illusion that charm cuts through. Charm reminds people of their own potential for happiness, connection, and love.
At it’s heart, charm is about reminding yourself of your own awesomeness and helping other people realize theirs. When you invest yourself in someone else’s happiness they can’t help but feel a powerful connection to you. To them, you will become one of those people who is undeniably magnetic.