14 Signs You Have Great Charisma

Updated: Dec. 06, 2016

Do you have a magnetic personality? Find out here.


You’re a fantastic listener

You might think people get charisma from their way with words, but a lot actually has to do with what they do when they’re not in the spotlight, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma. “When you really look at charismatic people, it’s often how they make the other person feel that identifies them as charismatic, which I think is one of the magical secrets about it,” she says. If you act interested in others, they’ll have a better impression of you, which is why charismatic people also happen to be great listeners. Holding eye contact, leaning in, ignoring your phone, and using these other habits of great listeners make the talker feel like the only person in the room,.


You ask follow-up questions

Active listeners aren’t just waiting to pass the time until they can talk again—they really care about understanding what the other person has to say, says Ron Riggio, PhD, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College and author of The Charisma Quotient: What It Is, How to Get It, How to Use It. “Listening is not just ‘did I hear the sounds going through my ears?’ but ‘can I decode it?’” says Dr. Riggio. “Your talking should be to draw out more information from the other person or for clarity.” Asking questions to make sure you’re understanding correctly will help you understand the other person better and build your own charisma. Avoid making these mistakes of bad listeners.


You make your voice heard

“Charismatic people are good listeners but also interrupt more to get heard,” says Wood. “But you have to be likable when you do it.” Only interrupt if you have a particularly powerful idea to contribute, and keep it positive—people won’t resent the interruption if you’re complimenting them or boosting spirits. Also, make sure you speak loudly enough to make an impact. Reserved people might have to raise their voices to what feels like yelling to reach a level that seems normal to others. Avoid falling into these annoying speaking habits.


You’re willing to show emotion

People with magnetic personalities won’t keep on a poker face when they’re expressing themselves. “Whatever the emotion is, it’s right there on their face and matches the word messaging,” says Wood. They use a big grin when they’re happy, and use angry gestures when they’re frustrated. People like knowing your true colors, so revealing how you feel will help you connect better. Don’t miss these other habits of naturally charming people.


You can keep your reactions contained

On the other hand, knowing how to filter your emotions to fit the situation shows charisma. “It’s being authentic as opposed to being transparent, which is everything I believe or feel comes out immediately,” says Dr. Riggio. “Authenticity is regulating that to a certain extent.” No matter how much you’re fuming, for instance, you can contain your anger without making a big scene. Read this to improve your emotional intelligence.


You look cheerful, even when you aren’t smiling

Everyone has a resting face—you know, the one when you’re staring blankly without showing much emotion—but some look happier than others. If yours looks friendly and welcoming, you’ll seem warmer and more approachable. But if you look like you have a grimace, even when you’re perfectly happy, people could be put off, says Wood. Take a look in the mirror. If your resting face looks unhappy, making a conscious effort to change it could give you big results. “When you make small changes to your facial expressions, the way you sit, or the way you stand, it creates a whole cascade of chemicals within your system so you change how you feel,” says Wood. You might find your friendly face creates a cheerful attitude. Try these other little tricks to feel happier all year.


You show empathy without saying a word

Not only do charismatic people show emotion when they’re talking, but they also wear their hearts on their sleeves when they’re listening. Specifically, those emotions are in line with the feelings the other person is expressing. “A charismatic person will not have a big, dumb smile on their face when someone is telling something horrible,” says Dr. Riggio. “Your face shows sadness and sympathy and you may not have to say anything.” The other person will walk away feeling like the two of you really connected. Find out if you have exceptional empathy.


You use big, upward hand gestures

“Up” body language, like holding your head high, turning up the corners of your mouth, and lifting your arms for hand gestures, makes you seem like a happier, lighter person. “You can be a conductor and your body becomes the baton and is bringing the conversation of your group upward,” says Wood. “It makes people feel euphoric and above the norm.” Not only will you look more fun to others, but you’ll also start to feel it for yourself. Those movements create endorphin-like chemicals that improve your mood, says Wood. You can also build trust with these body language tricks.


You hold eye contact without looking creepy

Laser-focused eye contact shows you’re listening hard, which will show you care about what others have to say. But turning it into a stare-down can make the listener feel intimidated or uncomfortable. “It’s intense and just borderline of staring,” says Wood, “but what charismatic people do is they put in not just the power aspect of eye contact but the likability of smiling and nodding.” Don’t miss these awkward habits that actually build trust.


You’re good at reading emotions

Adjusting reactions to fit the situation is a skill of charismatic people. But they wouldn’t know how to adapt if they weren’t good at reading between the lines when others are talking. They don’t just look at facial cues, which are the first thing people will try to control when hiding their emotions. “A really good charismatic person is going to look beyond what’s being presented in the face,” says Dr. Riggio. “Look for subtle cues and inconsistencies.” For instance, you might notice that a smile looks forced, or that excessive fidgeting makes a person seem anxious.


You have drawn-out hellos and goodbyes

Spending a long time greeting someone or saying farewell will show you’re genuinely excited to see that person and aren’t just rushing through formalities. “Spend that time and really connect and want to hear about them,” says Wood. “When you make someone feel special, you seem special.” Sprinkle in these magic phrases that make anyone trust you.


You aren’t cliquey

Introducing yourself to people from different generations, backgrounds, and cultures will help you seem charismatic, no matter who you’re with. “The more you get out and interact with people, the more you understand the diversity of people,” says Dr. Riggio. “Not everyone reacts the same way.” You’ll be able to adapt better to different situations without losing any authenticity. Try these mental shifts to improve your sensitivity.


You don’t always keep your hands to yourself

A brief touch—the “safe zone” is from the fingertips to the elbows—when telling someone you enjoyed meeting them or loved their presentation could make you more memorable, says Wood. “It shows warmth and likability and makes the other person feel singled out and special,” she says. Just make sure you follow the etiquette of your office. If any touching is frowned upon, you’ll want to keep your hands to yourself.


You give great visualizations

People will remember what you said better if you leave them with a clearer picture. “I can say ‘this car had this sort of black shininess to it’ or I could say ‘it had a black sheen like a raven’s feathers,’” says Dr. Riggio. “Now I’ve given you a little more to visualize. You’re seeing the raven’s feathers.” Charismatic people seem like more engaging speakers by sprinkling in examples and imagery. These magic phrases will help you nail public speaking.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest