Boost My Charisma Score
August 1, 2007 4:26 AM   Subscribe

What are some of your favorite interpersonal tricks and techniques. I am trying to be a little more engaging in my interpersonal relationships. Bascially, I want to up my charisma quotient. Answers to this question would be along the lines of stuff found in a Dale Carnegie book, like saying a person's name during conversation, keeping up correspondence ( letters, emails, x-mas cards ), etc. etc. Lyndon Johnson used to grab people by the lapel while talking to them for effect. Benjamin Franklin said, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." What things have you seen others do that seem to have a positive effect on other people?
posted by kaizen to Human Relations (31 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
The one thing that helps me out a lot is to remember that most people you will talk to have -something- about them that makes them interesting to you. It could be a job related, hobby related, or even familial. This person could be a swimmer, for instance, and hey, your brother swims! Try to find out what that interesting facet is through questions (don't try to interview them, though, just be curious) and you'll find that people enjoy talking to you much more.
posted by Loto at 4:55 AM on August 1, 2007

Listen to other people. That's far more positive than all the interpersonal tricks out there.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:17 AM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

A classic technique is physically mirroring someone. I tend to do this naturally, but I gather not everyone does.

When they lean forward, lean forward. When they put their hand near their face, put your hand near your face. When they smile, smile.

It sounds terribly cheesy, but as I said, it's actually quite natural for many people. It's how babies learn to behave; it's hardwired in us.

When you do this with an adult, it creates a subconsciously pleasing effect of kinship.
posted by ROTFL at 5:20 AM on August 1, 2007

Please be careful. The "trick" of saying a person's name during conversation can feel really false to the recipient. When people do it to me, I start to wonder if they're working from a script. Or if they're a robot. It makes me want to get away.

I do like it when people make eye contact. And smile real smiles. An easy, genuine smile is worth a lot of charisma.
posted by tomboko at 5:24 AM on August 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

Oh, and -- seconding Carol Anne. So very few people actually listen to each other that it'll make you well-liked in no time. I agree that this is the #1 technique for winning friends. People find you more interesting when they do almost all the talking.

You can help people along by interjecting basic queries: "No kidding! So, what did you do then?" Some people just echo the previous line. "... and I sawed it in half." "You sawed it in half?"
posted by ROTFL at 5:24 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I find those Dale Carnegie-style tricks contrived and insincere - especially the "use the person's name a lot" one. I hate that - it reeks of middle management.

Just take an interest in people, and if you're a bitter misanthrope like me, fake it 'til you make it. Loto is right - most people do have something interesting about them, so just ask open-ended questions until you find it.

Other things that work, but are more in the general "carry yourself well" category: make eye contact, have good posture, actually listen to what people have to say, project confidence. Worry less about the impression you make on other people and focus more on getting to know them.
posted by AV at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

What are some of your favorite interpersonal tricks and techniques.

You mean "how can I manipulate others to my advantage?"

Flattery, if used stealthily, still always works on everyone, even on all the people who think it doesn't work on them. People hate to sense that they're being buttered up, of course, so you have to flatter carefully and plausibly, and perhaps nonverbally: don't just say flattering things if you can do things that flatter that person.

Don't try to convince a very ugly person that he or she is beautiful or you'll fail. But you might convince that ugly person that you honestly think he or she dresses well or is extremely smart or is the most useful or creative or trustworthy or kind person in the building or city or universe. People usually think quite highly of themselves in areas that they feel compensate for their failings (that they aren't Einstein but they have a better personality and more common sense than most, for example), so it isn't much of a trick to make them think someone else has such an opinion.

And none of it has to be a lie. You might discover good things about people and subtly let them know, without embarrassing them, that you recognize those good things.
posted by pracowity at 5:43 AM on August 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Er, I should clarify - worry less about the impression you're making on other people when you're in the middle of a conversation with them, because it will just distract you. Obviously doing things that will make a good impression (returning phone calls, practicing good etiquette, looking presentable, etc.) are worth paying attention to, just not in the middle of a conversation.
posted by AV at 5:43 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Be genuinely interested in people.

People love to talk about themselves. By listening to them, asking questions about their life or interests, and, through being willing to share your own experiences, you will get along better and form deeper and more meaningful relations with others.

Trying to formulate deliberate strategies goes against everything natural and open about building trusting relations between people.

Another thing is that when you see people trying on deliberate Carnegie-ite techniques (such as the constant repetition of a person's name) it can be very embarassing to all concerned . I feel my toes curl when witnessing such blatant stunts (if I am the victim of such behaviour I think "WTF does this person want from me?" and I end up on the defensive straight away). There is a very fine line between appearing genuinely friendly and approachable and crossing the line into used car salesman friendly.

On preview, pretty much what AV said.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 5:44 AM on August 1, 2007

A classic technique is physically mirroring someone. I tend to do this naturally, but I gather not everyone does.

When they lean forward, lean forward. When they put their hand near their face, put your hand near your face. When they smile, smile.

It sounds terribly cheesy, but as I said, it's actually quite natural for many people. It's how babies learn to behave; it's hardwired in us.

When you do this with an adult, it creates a subconsciously pleasing effect of kinship.

Not, necessarily, not if they know you're doing it. I remember a particular instance where someone was doing this while we were talking and I was quite amused by it. So amused that I deliberately starting shifting myself around to see if the other person would follow suit. It was all I could do not to laugh but I appreciated the effort. Of course it's possible they were having a joke on me too.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:58 AM on August 1, 2007

- Strong eye contact. This is HUGE. You'll be more respected among men and much more attractive to women. If you don't do anything else, do this; it really is pretty incredible. (And you can tell a lot about other people's eye contact with you!)

- Slow everything down -- walk more slowly, glance up more casually if somebody yells your name, etc.

- Take up lots of space. For example, don't fold your legs under your chair when you sit. Don't be meek and unobtrusive.

- Lower the tone of your voice, increase the volume. Speak powerfully from your diaphragm (belly), not weakly from your throat (head).

- Accept trappings of power. Go ahead and move into that big office if you can. People will tend to think of you as more of a leader.

- Don't take yourself too seriously. If somebody makes a joke at your expense, laugh with them. Hell, riff on it with them.

Ah, fuck it... just work on your eye contact.
posted by LordSludge at 6:28 AM on August 1, 2007 [9 favorites]

Sincerity. Don't say something unless you mean it.

Often this means shutting up for awhile.
posted by desjardins at 7:15 AM on August 1, 2007

n'thing eye contact.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:25 AM on August 1, 2007

Yeah, don't say someone's name repeatedly, it seems contrived, and can also seem like you're trying to claim authority over them - it's the kind of thing parents and teachers do when you're in trouble! And if you don't know them well you can never be sure they don't go by a different name or a nickname.

This is sort of my job (in a people skills way, not a creepy sales way) and one of the biggest things I try to teach folks I train is not to thank people too much. Only thank them when they've really done something out of the way to help you, don't thank them for their time or for things that they needed to do for them, or reflexively for anything else. When you act like you owe people, they start to perceive you as someone who asks for things of them, when you act grateful they start to think that you ought to be, it creates an unequal relationship.

It's harder than you think if you tend to say "thank you" a lot, or you're in a situation where you feel like someone did you a favor but they might not necessarily see it that way (and you don't want them to), you need to have a different sign-off ready so you don't say it by accident! - I just say "have a good night", or "talk to you soon", and say it with real warmth. And when you do thank someone make it specific and genuine - "Thanks for a great dinner".
posted by crabintheocean at 7:25 AM on August 1, 2007 [7 favorites]

One thing I do that comes quite naturally thanks to my upbringing that usually goes down well is notice effort that others have made and compliment or thank them for it as appropriate. Seems a lot of people go through life not getting the appreciation they deserve, particularly in those things easily taken for granted.
It's a species of the paying attention to others rightly recommended above I think.
posted by Abiezer at 7:39 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

crabintheocean, I have the opposite view. I thank people for everything. Not obsequiously, but just as a courtesy. Even if they're just doing their job.

I go to someone's desk to get something and they give it to me? I say "thanks" with a smile. Mailroom guy delivers the mail to my desk? I say "Thanks." Someone returns the pen they borrowed? I say "Thanks." I have never seen any evidence that people think less of me. In fact, upper management in my office says "thanks" all the time. I don't think it's a sign that I "owe" people; I think it's a sign that I'm gracious enough to appreciate the work my colleagues do. FYI, they thank me too.

I'm not sure why you feel that saying "thanks" creates a position of weakness; can you clarify?
posted by ROTFL at 7:42 AM on August 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

I see that charismatic people are not afraid to be honest with people. They're not constantly seeking approval and validation. They're willing to give up popularity in the short term to get respect (and possibly popularity) in the long term.

Try saying what you really think. Don't listen to that voice that's warning you of all the dire consequences if you refuse a request, say something unflattering about yourself, etc.
posted by mpls2 at 7:53 AM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Anybody who tries to become my buddy by grabbing my lapel will be lucky to get away without a punch in the face. Don't do that, even if you're the president.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:34 AM on August 1, 2007

I'm not sure why you feel that saying "thanks" creates a position of weakness; can you clarify?
posted by ROTFL at 10:42 AM on August 1 [+] [!]

It's not so much the words "thanks" -- it's being overly thankful for small things that creates the imbalance. Being overly apologetic also has that effect.
posted by footnote at 8:42 AM on August 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

I disagree with crabintheocean about "Thanks" as well. Some of the most powerful people I know are habitual thankers, and also some of the most charismatic, well-liked, and distinctive individuals. Groveling is not the same thing as thanking.

My best tip for getting people to like you better is to follow up on your interactions with them. Briefly, breezily, and personally. I can think of any number of people who I grew closer to or took a place in my network because they followed up on an interaction we had when they didn't have to.

For instance, there's a person in my community who is a real go-getter, incredibly well known and liked. I got to know her when she saw me performing music; she emailed me later to say how much she enjoyed it and included a photo she had taken. When she contacted me to get some PR for an nonprofit event she was doing, I was happy to oblige. We're now solid give-and-take community partners and friendly acquaintances. She built a relationship by (a) remembering me (b) taking the time to connect with a very brief, quick note, and (c) making it personal, not rote.

I've learned from this. It's amazing what a two-line email or quick handwritten note will do for you. In the contemporary world we assume we're forgotten after an interaction; the awareness that someone was thinking about your interaction after the fact is a huge indication that they're interested in a continued connection with you. So when you go to conferences and chat with people, send them a note afterward "Enjoyed talking with you! I'll be using the anthology you recommended in my fall class," or suchlike. Or "It was great meeting you at Andy's. Here's an article about the restaurant I was talking about, in case you ever decide to try it."

Not creepy, just thoughtful and gracious. Since learning about this, I'm starting to realize it's the stuff social and business life is made of.
posted by Miko at 8:51 AM on August 1, 2007 [26 favorites]

I disagree with crabintheocean about "Thanks" as well. Some of the most powerful people I know are habitual thankers, and also some of the most charismatic, well-liked, and distinctive individuals. Groveling is not the same thing as thanking.

Agreed, I live in Canada where it is common to thank an ATM after it dispenses cash or apologize when someone else bumps into you... Strangely, some people take politeness to be a sign of weakness or submission. I can assure you, most people where I live would not feel that way.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2007

People like to talk about themselves.

People will like you more if you let them talk about themselves.

Ask questions that allow them to talk about themselves and show interest in what they are saying about themselves, and people will like you.

Don't direct conversations to you; direct towards people and show an interest in what they are saying. People like that.
posted by dios at 10:16 AM on August 1, 2007

So I liked How to make friends... & I don't consider it a book of tricks. I could be forgetting a lot but the gist that I remember is a lot more like listen, thank people, take an interest in people rather than repeat their name.

Keeping up correspondence is an effort. People appreciate effort. I don't think "sincerity" even enters into it, what's so sincere about not making an effort to keep in contact with folks?
posted by Wood at 10:47 AM on August 1, 2007

Trying to be more charismatic will only make you seem artificial and unpleasant. See Andy Bernard of "The Office" for reference.

That aside, I do make an effort to actually listen to people when I interact with them. As the sort of person who loves the sound of his own voice, I make a conscious effort to let others have the stage for a while. Not because I want them to like me more but because I'm genuinely interested in learning more about them.
posted by aladfar at 11:09 AM on August 1, 2007

The friends and associates that I think are charismatic sometimes use my name for emphasis in conversation, sometimes wink or otherwise include (only) me in a joke or reaction, and reference details from past conversations with me (indicating that they were listening at the time and that the exchange was worth remembering).

The other side of the coin are the monologuers, those who write emails but then don't respond after I've written back, those who forget that we saw the movie together and then tell me again what they thought of it, those who always choose the restaurant, those who never choose the restaurant... etc.
posted by xo at 12:31 PM on August 1, 2007

The charismatic people I know are the ones who are most competent in their jobs. Know your stuff. Know your stuff well enough that you can be relaxed, laugh at yourself where appropriate, etc.

Don't say my name a lot when you're talking to me. It leaps out as a phony-baloney controlling salesman tactic. Makes my skin crawl.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:49 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

People like people they believe like them.
posted by phoque at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2007

It looks like someone has written a book just for you.

Here is a choice bit from Leil Lownde's "How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships":

The Flooding Smile
Don't flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person's face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.

posted by AceRock at 4:50 PM on August 1, 2007 [7 favorites]

As far as using the name a lot -- there are some people who do use other people's name a lot and it sounds natural. Pay attention to them. I'm horrible with names so I tell people this and let them know that I might mention their name a few times just so I can store it in my mind. This has a couple of positive effects: first, they'll be slightly more sympathetic towards me if I forget their name in the future, since they know it's something I have a problem with (and not just that they didn't make an impression), also people tend to appreciate when you're honest and open up to them. Finally, it does give me an excuse to repeat their name slightly more than is natural. The unusualness of this interaction for me helps to preserve their name in my mind as well. I've gotten much, much better at remembering people's names lately as a result of this practice.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:07 PM on August 1, 2007

It isn't about politeness, it's about gratitude. Sure people like it when powerful people thank them, because it's a gesture towards equality from the person with power. They are acting like they need you. I doubt you're powerful enough that you need to pretend to lower yourself to be liked though - I'm not. I thank cashiers etc more than most people, but I'm not trying to create a respectful long term relationship where they find me charismatic, I'm trying to make both our days easier and not pull rank like so many people do with service industry workers.

But when I'm trying to be liked and respected I think that not bringing gratitude into the situation makes me seem more confident and easy to be around. Thank you's shift the power balance in a relationship, and you can work that a number of ways. Again, this isn't about politeness - it isn't that asshole thing people do where they try to be rude to you as a sign that they're higher status. You can (and should) be incredibly polite even if you don't say thanks, you just say "That was such a great meeting", not "Thanks for meeting with me."

I do want to qualify this a little though by saying that it's advice that comes out of my job, where people feeling put upon, or indebted and not in control of things is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed at every tiny opportunity (I also refuse to accept thanks in those work situations). I don't really think about this much in my personal life, it isn't a mantra I repeat under my breath at parties!

Oh, and I also want to agree with the person who said 'follow up', it's very, very rare and very important.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2007

Lyndon Johnson used to grab people by the lapel while talking to them for effect.

Any tricks that involve getting all up in someone's personal space (not just lapel-grabbing, but the hand on the arm, the pat on the back, etc.) are going to backfire badly if you try them on someone who values theirs. If you want to have a positive effect, you have to pay attention to who you're talking to and how much touching they seem to want to do, and not try to make it a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Some people will probably perceive you as warm and friendly if you touch them. Others will find it creepy and offputting.
posted by Many bubbles at 8:25 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

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