29 December 2007, 15:34
Being charming is greatly underrated. While some people believe that charm is like style — in that you either have it or you don’t — I prefer to take a more lenient approach. I think some people have a natural advantage but I also think that practice makes perfect in any arena, & it’s with this in mind that I’ve written up these pointers!
Charm & charisma are similar beasts: it’s the art of making the person you’re speaking to feel like they’re the only person in the room.
As long-time readers of iCiNG already know, it’s hard to feel dour when you’re dressed to the nines. I always think it’s better to be over- rather than under-dressed. Plus, it’s hard to be intriguing in trackpants. So, you wore your best dress to a backyard barbecue — who cares? At least you feel fabulous! Fitting in is for jigsaw pieces!
Sort your life out
However, if you have an abusive partner, a crappy job, ungrateful children, failing health & no ambition, all the beautiful dresses in the world won’t make you feel good for long. The good news is, you are in control of your own life & you can fix these problems! (Read I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life!, How To Make Your CV Impressive, Negative People & EFT for a kick-off.) It’s really difficult to be engaging & congenial when you’re worried about what’s going on at home or in the office. Start to improve your life & circumstances. The happier you are, the easier it is to charm the pants off unexpecting people!
Exercise before social events
I read this online somewhere, & it makes a lot of sense. If you have a good workout, then shower & go out, your body will still be pumping endorphins, which makes being charming, happy & pleasant really easy. It will give you a natural confidence boost as well as sharpening your brain, so that it will be a breeze to approach people & make witty conversation. Of course, it might be hard to do this if, say, you’re Donald Trump & social events are your entire life, but the rest of us can probably manage it!
Take a deep breath & try to talk to everybody
This can be a bit stomach-churning if you’re not super-confident, but try it anyway. It’s quite easy to walk up to someone, offer them your hand & say, “Hello, I’m Sir Roger Miggleditch the Third” or whatever — it’s just the thought of doing it that is scary. Like Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear & do it anyway!
When you’re talking to someone, keep the topics pleasant. Just be lovely! No one really wants to hear about your grandmother’s kidney failure, mass genocide in wherever & your husband’s affair. This is not to say that you should never discuss these things — of course, you can talk about whatever you like — but when you meet someone for the first time, it is perhaps not the best time to divulge your darkest fears & things that make you tremble in the night! On the flip side, you also don’t want to appear to be a total airhead, so don’t just talk about kittens or lipstick. Just keep the tone positive — try to see the bright side, & no complaining!
Pay attention to the person you’re speaking to
When you’re having a conversation with someone, make them feel important, & like they’re using their time well by talking to you. This means doing things like looking at who you’re talking to, & making eye contact. Listen to them & ask intelligent questions. Avoid fidgeting or glancing around the room behind them. Leave your phone in your bag (on silent, unless there is a potentially life-threatening situation at the other end of the line) & don’t prattle on endlessly about yourself. Smile! Laugh! Use humour. Talk about them as much as possible. & when you’re done, tell them it was wonderful to meet them, & excuse yourself.
Don’t be afraid to lightly touch the person you’re speaking to. When you do this, the person you touch gets a hit of oxytocin, a chemical which gives them a pleasant feeling. This will help them remember you & also associate memories of you with a good feeling. The one thing I would say about touching people is that it should always be appropriate & never forced. Some ways to work touch into the interaction is when you shake their hand, use your left hand to touch their arm or shoulder. You can also try touching someone’s hand or arm to prove a point or get their attention.
Well, don’t really flirt — just use the knowledge of how you normally flirt to bring out the best in people. Think about how you act when you’re talking to someone who you think is a bit saucy. You use open body language — shoulders back, arms uncrossed. You move your hands expressively & gesticulate with enthusiasm. You smile with your eyes & really pay attention to the person you’re speaking with. Try to implement these small graces into your conversation & see how you go. Even if the person you’re speaking to misinterprets what you’re doing as actual flirting, odds are, they’ll be flattered more than anything!
Make them feel good about themselves. Even the most horrific people can have lovely eyes or a well-cut jacket! Make an effort to seek out the best in people, & then vocalise it. No one can resist a good compliment!
On that note, if someone pays you a compliment, even if you don’t believe them or you secretly believe you are the most hideous person in the world, accept it graciously! Just smile & say thank you. Blushing is acceptable if you can’t avoid it!
Practice your charm all the time
No one is so far beneath you that they don’t deserve charm & grace. Be delightful to the check-out assistant at the supermarket, your doorman, the taxi driver & the maître d’. The more you do it, the better you’ll get it at, & other than the good feelings it’ll give you, you never know what favours your charm could net you!