Please Pass the Magnetism…
Our trusty computer thesaurus tells us that magnetism is synonymous with charisma, appeal, allure, and enticement, among others. All of these words draw me in and make me want to be around people who have it, and I’d like to hang onto a fair dose of it myself. What’s good about it? Magnetism can be a powerful influencer; it usually makes people lean in and listen even if they don’t know they’re doing it. And let’s face it, if people are listening, our statements will be more persuasive when we deliver them.
Let’s take Amanda Gorman as an outstanding example of someone who is incredibly magnetic! Whether she’s reciting dramatic poetry for the Presidential Inauguration or sitting with James Corden across a Zoom screen as he asks her questions about herself and floods her with enthusiasm about everything she says, Amanda is one powerful dose of magnetism. Obviously, we can’t get enough of her – she’s everywhere right now, and many of us are tuning in wherever we can find her, myself included!
To be our ordinary selves, all the while looking to exude an aura that others find compelling is the path towards magnetism and great leadership opportunities. The leadership I’m talking about doesn’t have to be in a Fortune 500 company, it can be in a teacher who captivates the attention of his or her students (we’ve seen many of these since the pandemic began), it can be on a library reading day as you read a chapter of a book to your teen and adult listeners, it can be as a parent or grandparent teaching something important to the youth of your family.
According to Olivia Fox Cabane, author of the book The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, charismatic people share three traits in common.
Presence – Charismatic people are always present in their current situation. They have an air about them that makes them appear poised and confident.
Warmth – Everyone wants to be friends with charismatic people because their warmth makes you feel welcome. Charismatic people have a way of making others comfortable, which gets people to let their guard down.
Power – People that are charismatic aren’t all talk. They are people that exude the aptitude and the ability to get things done. And their contributions are evident in their homes, communities, and work places.
Of the three, Olivia notes that presence is the most important. It’s the foundation for all of the characteristics that make someone enticing. Let’s take a closer look at how to embody presence.
People with presence look confident and calm and carry an air of security. They speak clearly and believably, and maintain their clarity even under pressure. They act with purpose. People with presence reflect on their emotions, attitudes, and situations and then adapt accordingly. They are grounded and real. One of the things we often hear when wanting to learn about a character trait is to observe people with that trait. With presence, you would want to notice how they engage with you and others, how they speak and behave, and how they dress, sit, walk and gesture. It will inform you immensely.
I recently worked with an Empowerment Coach, Jill Hope, who offered a course series on “How to Receive More of what You Want.” In it, she taught one session on “Magnetics.” She talked about how to unleash your natural magnetism to attract the opportunities, people, and situations that allow you to create what you want.
Jill has an intuitive, inclusive, caring energy that in and of itself is magnetic. My take-away ideas from this session really lit me up. I recognized that personal magnetism is a gift to oneself as well as to those around you.
If I am excited about what I’m doing—even the mundane tasks that can easily make me groan instead of jump for joy—then my energy is alive and beckoning. I can more aptly find the value in each labor and make it part of what I am accomplishing. If I do this as a practice, making it a habit, then when I have something riskier and more intricate to accomplish, I have the vibrancy and enthusiasm to reach out in ways that naturally attract others to join me in an amazing adventure.
Research has uncovered a number of things that people can do to become more magnetic and alluring. I am going to include four here that I feel have the most impact.
- Say What You Feel
If this is not a skill you already have, start first by paying attention to what you feel and where in your body you feel it. This ability has to be established before you can say what you feel. Once there, the next step is to be open and honest when expressing your genuine feelings. You might say, “I’m feeling giddy just listening to your responsiveness about the speech we all just heard.” Speaking your truth is part of the reason why people who say what they feel are so easy to trust. This is true even when what you feel is less enthusiastic, such as disappointment, trepidation, or frustration. It is your honesty and transparency to which people are drawn.
- Put Emphasis on Potential Rather Than Achievements
Expressing your potential, rather than bragging about your talents, has a positive and potent effect. A Stanford-Harvard study discovered that people are more engaged when you talk about what you’re capable of accomplishing compared to listing actual achievements.
- Get People to Talk About Themselves
Prompting other people to talk has two appealing advantages. First and foremost, it helps you get a better feel for the other person’s mindset so you can match their demeanor and communication style. This is a cornerstone of being empathetic – another common trait of magnetic people. Second, people enjoy talking about themselves. Letting others chat about their own lives stimulates feel-good regions in the brain. They’ll associate that positive feeling with the person they’re talking to and be more likely to form social bonds.
- Be a Good Listener
You absolutely have to like listening to others and do it with zeal—or there’s no point in getting people to talk about themselves in the first place! Being a good listener means you are curious about what someone else is saying and you’re not simultaneously thinking about what you’re going to say back. You are completely intent on listening, and you may not have anything to say back. You simply drink in what they are saying and learn from it.
If charisma, appeal, and magnetism stimulate you to want more of that, I would say, go for it and have fun with it. I have often found myself being too serious about something I am wanting to learn or master, and that seriousness can get in the way. I know I have enough discipline and follow through to go the distance with what I set my sights on, so I’m getting better at relaxing about it, finding a way to make it fun, and lo and behold, I am easing into new behaviors and jumping for joy over the simplest things.
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