THE BLOG
01/27/2014 05:23 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2014

Charisma 101

Some people are like sunspots. Adam Gopnik's description of Richard Avedon captures this incandescent quality perfectly:

To know Dick Avedon was to know the sun. He radiated out, early and daily, on a circle of friends and family and colleagues, who drew on his light and warmth for sustenance... To know him was to feel in the presence of the sun...

Indeed, some people are so magnetic that we feel a gravitational pull towards them. We describe this quality as "charisma" and most people think of it as something you are either born with or not. However, as illustrated in Olivia Fox Cabane's The Charisma Myth, this is not the case. In fact, charisma is a skill that can be learned.

Cabane offers three quick tips to gain an instant charisma boost in conversation:

Lower the intonation of your voice at the end of your sentences.
Reduce how quickly and how often you nod.
Pause for two full seconds before you speak.

According to Cabane, charisma is the coming together of three essential elements: Presence, Power and Warmth. This magic combination enhances our own experience and how others experience us:

If you're a leader, or aspire to be one, charisma matters. It gives you a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the very best talent. It makes people want to work with you, your team, and your company. Research shows that those following charismatic leaders perform better, experience their work as more meaningful, and have more trust in their leader.

"It's absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." -- Oscar Wilde