Charisma is a powerful thing.  With it, you can rule the world (or at the very least, a small group of gatherers who don’t know any better).

Charisma can be used for good—as we saw with Martin Luther King Jr., who openly opposed segregation through nonviolent resistance and passionate public speeches in the 50s and 60s.  But it can also be used for bad—as we saw with Jim Jones, who manipulated over 900 people into drinking Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide in the late 70s.

As a business professional or salesperson, charisma can be used not to empower you, but to empower the people around you to pick up what you’re putting down, just as Jones and King did decades ago.  You see, we’re all putting down something (or in your case, selling something)—whether it’s civil rights or mass murder; it’s always something.  When you have strong charisma, you can sell anything and in doing so, empower people to believe, to move, to do, to think, to love, to hope, to buy, to change, to do whatever it is you’re asking of them (or in your case, to take a bite of your managed service offering).

So how does one become charismatic?  Well, for some magical creatures, they’re born with it, and they have this inherent ability to speak well, to outperform, and to simply look better at whatever it is they do.  For other less inclined individuals, they teach themselves to be charismatic, and they think about it every day until (or if) it ever sticks and becomes part of who they are.  And the rest of this article is for those people—for those who say the wrong things at the right time, who always rub people the wrong way, and who never look good doing anything.  Here are a few suggestions to help you be more charismatic and, hopefully, a better business person in the process.

Be interesting and sometimes interested.

There’s this phrase circulating the internet right now, and it’s pretty much bogus.  It says, “Be interested.  Not interesting.”  And at first, this seems entirely accurate, especially with how consumers are these days.  But when you think about it a little bit longer, this isn’t always true.  Yes, you should be interested in what people do, say, or think—but not all the time and certainly not with everyone.

If you think about successful business people and leaders, many of them definitely weren’t interested in anyone but themselves, but at the same time, they’re probably anomalies, billionaires, or geniuses, making them so interesting they don’t need to be interested.  As a salesperson or non-billionaire/genius, you should be interested but only when you need to be.  Don’t waste your conversation fillers, forced smiles, and follow-up questions on clients, relationships, or vendors you don’t need, don’t want to keep and don’t enjoy.  This suggestion also applies to that whole ‘listen to everyone intently” spiel.  Listen only if you need to.

If you’re going to be interested, then you need to learn how to use all of your ears.

There’s this great book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and it discusses the benefits of healthy emotional intelligence.  Through 66 proven strategies, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 teaches you how to increase your EQ.  Throughout this book, the authors reassert over and over the importance of strategic listening.  And, unfortunately, most people would be quick to skip over these parts because they believe they’re excellent listeners; however, this is highly unlikely… and it’s obvious.

Observe people you talk to every day, and you’ll notice most people stop listening three-quarters, mid-way, or two words into your conversation.  They lose eye contact, they’re fidgeting, and they’re mouth is probably partially open, ready to butt into your sentence at any second. Why?  Because they’re already formulating a response to your partial sentence—because most people are inherently self-absorbed.

This self-serving behavior inhibits the listener’s ability to respond appropriately and strongly, and whatever the listener says in response to the speaker will be seen as subpar, inapplicable—and drumroll, please—not interesting.  If you want to be charismatic, then you need to be—you got it—interesting.  Listening intently, all the way, and to the end of a complete sentence will help you speak better and enforce a lasting impression.

There’s more to this whole charisma thing, so much so that this blog could go on for days.  But how interesting would that be and how soon would you stop listening to what your mind is reading?  …see what just happened there?  So stay tuned for part 2 of Charisma can incite mass murder, civil rights, or a signed agreement.