How to Be Charming

June 8, 2007

Charm is the art of having an attractive personality. This characteristic can only be achieved over a period of time. While everyone is born with differing amounts of natural charm, much can be acquired and honed through practice and patience. As with dancing, the more you practice, the better you will become. Effort and careful attention to the needs and desires of others will ensure that charm becomes a permanent part of your character.

Steps

1. Improve your posture. Good posture will give the impression of self confidence (even if you don’t feel that way on the inside). While walking, it is always important to maintain a relaxed yet definitive upright posture- spine long, shoulders back. Practicing in front of a mirror is great, also you could ask a friend or family member to help you adjust your stance. This may feel awkward or overpowering to you when you first practice it, but keep trying.

2. Relax the muscles in your face to the point where you have a natural, pleasant expression permanently engraved there. For some people, it helps to dwell on something or someone that makes them happy.

3. Make a connection. When your eyes come in contact with another person’s, nod and smile subtly with a subdued joy shining forth. Don’t worry about the other person’s reaction and don’t overdo it.

4. Remember people’s names when you meet them for the first time. This takes an enormous amount of effort for most people. Repeat the person’s name when stating your name to that person will help you to remember it better. For example: “Hi Jack, I’m Wendy.” Follow through with small talk and repeat the person’s name. Repeat it once more when you say goodbye. It’s not just about helping you to remember that person. The more you say a person’s name, the more that person will feel that you like them and the greater the chance they’ll warm up to you.

5. Be interested in people. If you meet a new acquaintance, for example a coworker, a classmate, a friend of a friend, etc. find out about their immediate family and interests. Be sure to ask after the names of family members and remember them. Also ask after their particular interests in life. These two topics will ensure much better small talk than just harping on about school or work. Most people don’t like to think about those things at social occasions unless they have to. Even if it is about networking, you should understand fully the worth of taking a break from talking shop. It is important to refrain from talking up about yourself. Be purely interested and impressed by the person with whom you are speaking.

6. Orient topics toward the audience. This means taking into account topics that interest those around you, even if you are not so keen on them. If you are in a sporty crowd, talk about last night’s game or the meteoric rise of a new team. If you are amongst a group of hobbyists, draw out their hobbies and make remarks related to fishing, knitting, mountain climbing, movies, etc. Nobody expects you to be an expert. It is your level of interest and willingness to engage in topics that makes you an interesting person to be around. Exercise an open mind. Let others do the explaining. If someone mistakenly thinks you know more about the topic, be genuine and simply say that your knowledge is limited but that you are hoping to learn more about it.

7. Praise others instead of gossiping. If you are talking with someone or you are talking in a group of people, and up pops the subject of another person in a positive or negative way, be the one to mention something you like about that person. Hearsay is the most powerful tool in gaining charm because it is always viewed as 100% sincere. It has the added benefit of creating trust in you – “Oh, s/he never has a bad word to say about anyone.” They know they and their reputation are safe with you.

8. Be honest. A lie is something you say for which there is some direct evidence somewhere out there that contradicts it. If you tell Mary that you like Jane and Billy that you don’t like Jane, Mary and Billy will talk and your reputation will be ruined. No one will believe a word you say.

9. Issue compliments generously, especially to raise others’ self esteem. Try to pick out something that you appreciate in any situation and verbally express that appreciation. If you like something or someone, find a creative way to say it and say it immediately. If you wait too long, it may be viewed as insincere and badly timed, especially if others have beaten you to it. If you notice that someone is putting a lot of effort into something, compliment it, even if you feel that there is room for improvement. If you notice that someone has changed something about themselves (haircut, manner of dress) notice it, and point out something you like about it. If you are asked directly, be charming and deflect the question with a very general compliment.

10. Be gracious in accepting compliments. Get out of the habit of assuming that the compliment is being given without genuine intent. Even when someone makes a compliment out of contempt, there is always a germ of jealous truth hiding in their own heart. Be effusive in accepting the compliment. Go beyond a mere “thank you” and enjoin this with “I’m really glad you like it” or “It is so incredibly kind of you to have noticed.” These are “compliments in return.” Avoid backhanding a compliment. There is nothing worse to a person complimenting than to receive the response “Oh well I wish I was as ______ as you/that situation.” That is tantamount to saying, “No, I am not what you are saying I am, and your judgment is wrong.”

11. Control your tone of voice. The tone of your voice is crucial. Most people feel insecure somewhere inside and have an inability to accept praise. For this very reason, when you praise, do it subtly and glibly. When you say, “you look nice today” it should be in the exact same tone that you would use to say “it’s a nice day.” Any variation from your normal tone will arouse suspicion about your sincerity. And since you will be trying hard to be a breezy, caring, happy personality, your eagerness will come across in both simple and complimentary talk. Practice giving compliments into a recorder and play it back. Does it sound sincere? Whether your praise is true or not, it must sound sincere! (It is, of course, far more effective when it genuinely is sincere.) Practice until you get it right.

Tips

· Always remain relaxed. You want to please other people but you do not worry about what they are thinking. If you do, it will be written all over your face and you will be perceived as a doormat or a people-pleaser – a person with a desperate need for others to like them. And remember, what people are thinking is rarely about you. It is generally about themselves and their to-do lists.

· The degree of charm that you possess depends on the creativity of your praise. Say something that is not immediately obvious and say it in a poetic way. It’s good to have some premeditated compliments and phrases but the most charming people are able to invent them on the spot. This way, you can be sure that you are not repeating it.

· Every so often you will have no choice but to express an opinion that few others hold (to adhere to the honesty policy). You must do it in a humorous way. Humor is the teaspoon of sugar that helps the medicine go down.

· Empathy is at the core of charm. If you can’t tell what makes people happy or unhappy, you have no way to assess whether you are saying the right or wrong thing.

· If you find it tricky to relax your face, start with your shoulders. Are they up near your ears? That’s a good sign you’re tense. Put them back in place, correct your posture, take in a deep breath and smile.

Warnings

· Never argue. Remember if half of the people who hear your argument agree and half disagree, you have failed at being charming. What you say must be pleasing to 100% of the people who will hear it, whether they hear it directly from you or not.

. Be that as it may, remember that arguing is not the same as disagreeing. Feel free to express your opinion, but don’t attempt to dominate the person with whom you are chatting.

· Never laugh at your own jokes. That smacks of poor taste. The joke ought to stand alone. You can smile generously. And don’t worry if no one else laughs at your jokes. Sometimes people just don’t hear or understand a joke. It is as embarrassing for them to miss the punchline, and to have to own up to it, as it is for the person giving the joke seeking to wind up a jovial response.

· Never over-explain anything. To do this is to belabor a point. Unfortunately, it simply confirms a lack of self-esteem in that you do not trust that others have understood your point. In addition, it displays arrogance in that it demonstrates a feeling on your behalf that your listeners cannot think for themselves. People will listen to you when you cut out unnecessary explanations and force them to be active listeners. Trust that your listeners can put two and two together.

· Many people mistake arrogance for charm. In fact, arrogance is anti-charm. Charmers live to please others. Arrogant people live to please themselves. Arrogance only attracts insecure people while charm attracts everyone.

Things You’ll Need

· An open smile

· Empathy

· Confidence

· Self-esteem

· Honesty

· An arsenal of creative compliments

· The ability to invent creative compliments on the spot

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