In her new book, The Charisma Myth, author Fox Cabane argues that anyone can master the “art and science” of personal magnetism. Defined as the ability to inspire great enthusiasm and devotion, the essence of charisma is an empathetic body language and a cheerful, authoritative manner of speech. “The techniques [Cabane] uses to teach emotionally illiterate clients to read body language are the same as those employed by the CIA and FBI. ‘By observing people’s micro-expressions, they really do learn to read people like a book, which makes them more empathetic.'”
What’s the Big Idea?
While charisma may inspire more people to like you, the personality trait should not be confused with moral goodness. History’s biggest villains, such as Hitler, Mao and Mussolini, were all known for their alluring personalities. “These were all visionary charismatics, people who had total conviction in their beliefs,” says Cabane. “Humans are hard-wired to dislike uncertainty, so when they come across someone who shows none they find it very hard to resist.” Cabane also points out that being charismatic requires a lot of energy, meaning that leaders can often be drab or impersonal in their family lives.