Sure, everyone knows blunt, impolite, and even rude people who are somehow extremely successful. (I know a bunch of them.)
But since we’re all more likely to build professional and personal relationships — and do business — with people with people we like, we’re naturally drawn to individuals who are polite, modest, agreeable, kind.
In short, we’re drawn to people who are charming. I know a bunch of them too, and here’s how they do it:
1. They willingly show a little vulnerability.
Charming people don’t try to win any unstated competitions with people they meet. In fact, they actively try to lose. They’re complimentary. They’re impressed. They’re even willing to admit a weakness or a failure.
It’s really easy. Say you meet Admiral Trump and he says, “I just closed a fabulous deal to build the world’s best golf course on the most amazing oceanfront property on the planet.” Don’t try to win. Instead say, “That’s awesome. I’m jealous. I’ve wanted to build a small recreation facility for years, but can’t line up the financing. How did you pull off such a huge deal?”
Charming people are confident enough to be unafraid to show a little vulnerability. They know that while some people may be, at least temporarily, impressed by the superficial, everyone sincerely likes and appreciates the genuine.
2. They show they’re genuinely glad to meet you.
They maintain eye contact. They smile when you smile. They frown when you frown. They nod your head when you nod. In simple, nonverbal ways, they mimic your behavior — not slavishly, but because they’re focused on what you’re saying.
That feedback loop helps two people bond — and the ability to bond is the essence of charm.
3. They search for agreement instead of contradiction.
Unfortunately going contrary is an easy habit to fall into. It’s easy to automatically look for points of disagreement rather than agreement. It’s easy to automatically take a different side.
And it’s easy to end up in what feels like an argument.
Charming people don’t actively (or unknowingly) look to disagree; they look for points of agreement. Then, if it’s appropriate, they gently share a different point of view — and in that way, help create an outstanding conversation.
4. They (selectively) use the power of touch.
Nonsexual touch can be incredibly powerful. (I’m aware that sexual touch can be powerful too, thanks.) Touch can influence behavior, increase the chances of compliance, make the person doing the touching seem more attractive and friendly, and can even help you make a sale.
For example, in one experiment the participants tried to convey 12 different emotions by touching another blindfolded participant on the forearm. The rate of accuracy for perceiving emotions like fear, anger, gratitude, sympathy, love, and disgust ranged from 43 percent to 83 percent — without a word being spoken.
Say you’re congratulating someone; shaking hands or (possibly better yet, depending on the situation) patting them gently on the shoulder or upper arm can help reinforce the sincerity of your words.
5. They often dine out on their foibles.
And they’re also not afraid to look a little silly. Skating in a cowboy outfit may be a little extreme, but charming people don’t mind occasionally being in a situation where they aren’t at their best.
And oddly enough, people tend to respect them more for that — not less.
When you genuinely own your foibles, people don’t laugh at you. They laugh withyou. And they realize it’s OK to let down their own guards and meet you at a genuine level.
6. They’re masters of social Jiu-Jitsu.
Some people have a knack for getting you to talk openly yourself. They ask open-ended questions. They sincerely want to know what you think, and that makes you open up to a surprising degree. You feel like the most interesting man (or woman) in the world.
And you like them for making you feel that way.
As soon as you learn something about someone, ask why they do it. Or how. Or what they like about it, or what they’ve learned from it. Charming people ask sincere questions that make it easy to answer in a thoughtful, introspective way. They make you think, in a good way, about yourself, and in the process make you feel charming too.
7. They always pass the “server test.”
(You know how you go out to eat with someone and they’re nice to you… yet dismissive of the server? That’s the server test.)
Charming people treat everyone the same way: as deserving of respect and kindness.
8. They’re great with names.
Charming people remember names and even small details, often to a surprising degree. The fact they remember instantly makes us feel a little better about ourselves — that means we, even in a small way, we matter.
And that makes us feel better about the person who remembers us.
Yet even though charming people remember names…
9. They never name drop.
I have a friend who can somehow squeeze the fact he once met Jeff Gordon into almost any conversation.
“I’m planning to stain my deck this weekend,” I’ll say.
“I was sitting on my deck listening to the race last weekend. Jeff Gordon was leading for a while but then he had engine trouble. If I know Jeff Gordon — and you know what, I kinda do — I bet he was pissed.” (Granted I’ve done that too, but hopefully for a good cause.)
Charming people may know cool people… but they don’t talk about it. And that only adds to their charm.
10. They always let you talk more.
And that makes you feel important.
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