Charisma is “the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you.”
It’s also defined as “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure”
And as: “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.”
Notice anything in there about extroversion? Of course not.
The essence of charisma is attraction, charm, leadership, influence and inspiring others.
In American culture, we happen to associate these qualities with extroversion.
The image of an “attractive” person is usually someone who is extroverted. The popular girl or guy in high school.
Leaders are assumed to be extroverts.
Charm and influence is considered a domain of the extroverted. How can a quiet, low-energy person possibly inspire others to action?
Introverts are too wrapped up in their inner worlds to play the glib, shallow game of charm. How can they influence anyone to do anything?
Ironically, introverts can be just as charismatic, or even more charismatic, than extroverts.
Go back to the definition: all you need to be charismatic is the power to attract and influence others.
Introverts have the ability to connect deeply with others, to build rapport and comfort.
And comfort is a prerequisite to attraction and influence.
When was the last time you were drawn to a situation or a person that you felt unsafe around?
How often do you find yourself going along with someone’s suggestion, when that person makes you feel uncomfortable, rushed, or creeped out?
Comfort and rapport are essential. I want to feel that you understand me and my needs and desires.
Being charismatic does not mean being loud and bossy. It does not mean being slick and smooth.
In certain settings (a high-testosterone trading floor, a snobbish overpriced bar), it might mean that.
But the real essence of charisma is simply the ability to attract and influence others.
Introverted charisma doesn’t look like its extroverted counterpart.
Introverted charisma is a quiet conversation a student has with his favorite teacher that motivates him to apply to a university he thought was out of reach.
Introverted charisma is a reassuring speech given by a new CEO to her team, who are confused and fearful of the future, and who desperately want mature, rational leadership.
And introverted charisma is seen when a hiring manager feels the job candidate sitting in front of her is not as excitable or gregarious as others on the team, but is utterly at ease and comfortable in his own skin, and projects an aura of competence and responsibility that is rare and refreshing.
Introverts can be (and are) influential, charming and compelling. We just need to believe in our own potential.
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